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This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from the Occupational Health Services on March 5, 2020 at 6:50 p.m.
Subject: Important Update on COVID-19, Change in University Travel Policy

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Dear members of the Rockefeller community,

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally continues to increase at a significant rate and in a growing number of locations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) deems that the immediate health risk from COVID-19 for the American public is still low and that the greatest risk of acquiring the infection is from travel to areas of outbreak. 

In light of that risk, the University has revised instructions for the University community regarding travel as follows:

International Travel

  • The University is banning nonessential business travel to countries for which the CDC has issued a Warning Level 3 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  At this time, those countries are China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. The outbreak of COVID-19 is evolving rapidly.  We expect that additional countries will be added to the CDC travel advisory list.
  • The University also strongly advises all members of our community to avoid personal travel to any Warning Level 3 country.
  • The University also strongly encourages all members of our community to postpone or cancel nonessential travel, whether business or personal, to Warning Level 2 countries. At this time, the CDC lists Japan at Level 2 but additional countries are likely to be added at this level as well.

The University will continue its monitoring program for members of the community as follows:

  • If you have been in any country for which the CDC has issued a Warning Level 3 or 2 (this includes China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan) during the past two weeks OR if you have had contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19 AND you develop a fever or sore throat or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath):

o   Do not come to work.

o   Stay at home and call your primary care provider for specific advice.  If you do not have a primary care provider, call Rockefeller University Occupational Health Services at (212) 327-8414.

  • If your symptoms are severe, or you cannot connect with a health care provider, you should seek medical evaluation at the closest Emergency Room. Try to call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms in advance. The telephone number for New York-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center is: (212) 746-5454.
  • If you, or someone you have been in contact with, has been in any country for which the CDC has issued a Warning Level 3 or 2 (this includes China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan) during the past two weeks:

o   Call Occupational Health Services at (212) 327-8414. You will be asked several screening questions. 

o   Based upon the responses to the screening questions, you may be instructed not to come to work and advised to self-monitor your temperature and symptoms at home for up to 14 days. This time away from work will be covered under the University sick leave policy.

Domestic Travel

Given increasing concerns about community transmission of COVID-19 within the U.S., some have inquired about the advisability of traveling to such places as Washington state, or one of the other states with significant numbers of reported cases.

To date, the CDC has not provided specific guidance regarding domestic travel. However, those considering domestic travel should keep in mind their own individual risk factors (for example, if they have chronic illness or are immunosuppressed) and closely follow the CDC’s travel updates before and during travel.

More information, including up-to-date data about COVID-19 is available from CDC, NYC Department of Health, and the University’s pandemic preparedness website.

The safety and health of the University employees and students remains a top priority.  Thank you once again for your cooperation in promoting the health of our community.


Ashley Foo, M.S., ANP-BC
Director, Occupational Health Services

Thomas P. Sakmar, M.D.
Richard M. & Isabel P. Furlaud Professor 
Physician Consultant, Occupational Health Services

Virginia Huffman
Vice President, Human Resources

Timothy P. O’Connor, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President

Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.