UT University Health Services

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a newly identified coronavirus that is causing an outbreak of pneumonia illness. It was first identified in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Since then, cases have been identified in multiple other countries including the US.

Reported illnesses for COVID-19 have ranged from little to no symptoms to severe illness and death. People most seriously affected tend to be older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems.

To learn more about how the university is responding, and frequently asked questions, click here.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Symptoms may be flu-like, ranging from mild to serious, and include:

  • New or worsening fever >100.0
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing

While COVID-2019 is believed to have originated from animals, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and landing in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly inhaled into the lungs.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms. Some individuals have mild or no symptoms, but can still spread the virus to others.

There is no vaccine to prevent this virus, and the CDC advises that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

Here are everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses in general, such as colds and the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Keep a distance of six feet between yourself and others whenever possible
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Don’t share food, beverages or smoking devices with others
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid shaking hands—try a fist bump instead
  • Stay home when sick, and avoid leaving home even if you’re well except when necessary
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve or cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue directly into the trash
  • If you experience symptoms of respiratory illness, call the UHS Nurse Advice Line at 512-475-6877

People infected with COVID-19 should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. Currently, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 infection. (source: CDC)

Individuals should seek medical care if they have symptoms of fever, cough and/or difficulty breathing.

Before going to a healthcare facility, call ahead. They will provide specific instructions about how to come to the facility and where to go upon arrival to minimize the risk of exposing others, or depending on your symptoms, may give self-care advice to follow at home.

  • Students should call the UHS 24-hour Nurse Advice Line 512-475-6877 for advice about how to get medical care. If you have UT Select Health, because you are also a benefits-earning employee of UT Austin, you may also call the 24/7 Nurseline provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield at (888-315-9473).
  • Staff and faculty with UT Select insurance may contact the 24/7 Nurseline provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield 888-315-9473 or seek care from UT Health Austin or their personal healthcare provider

On the way to a healthcare facility:

  • Avoid contact with others as much as possible
  • Do not take public transportation to UHS or other healthcare facilities
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not the hands) when coughing or sneezing
  • If available, wear a facemask

You might feel stress or anxiety related to COVID-19. It is normal to feel some worry about this evolving situation. Some people find reassurance in equipping themselves with the facts about COVID-19 or talking with friends or family. If you experience stress, fear, anxiety or other emotions that make it difficult to keep up with your regular activities, consider contacting the Counseling and Mental Center to speak with a counselor about options. CMHC telecounseling is available through CMHC for students who have been asked to self-isolate.

Some of the fear and anxiety related to COVID-19 has led to stigma and discrimination directed towards people of Asian descent. This stigma creates more fear and harms ordinary people. People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVD-19 than anyone else. If you become aware of hateful comments or bias incidents on campus, consider making a report to the Campus Climate Response Team.

What to do if you have:

You should stay home and self-isolate, monitoring yourself for symptoms that may require hospitalization. Follow self-isolation guidelines under “Symptoms” in this chart.

You should practice social distancing and self-monitor for fever or respiratory symptoms. Follow social distancing and self-monitoring guidelines under “Everyone” in this chart.

Travel Guidelines

Coronavirus and travel within the U.S.
The CDC has provided a summary of things to consider to help answer the question, “Should I travel within the United States?”, and also determine whether your destination has mandated restrictions on travelers arriving from certain states and cities in the U.S.

Mandatory Quarantine for Travelers Flying into Texas from Certain U.S. States and Cities
Texas governor Greg Abbott has issued executive orders mandating that every person entering the State of Texas as the final destination through an airport (whether a point of origin or of last departure) in the following locations must self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter. The order does not apply to people traveling in connection with military service, emergency response, health response or critical-infrastructure functions as may be determined by the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Travelers are responsible for all costs related to self-quarantine. States or cities to which this mandate applies are listed below and may change as the need arises.

New Jersey
New York

New Orleans

NOTE: All car travel from Louisiana into Texas is subject to the same quarantine mandate.

Self-quarantine guidelines (pdf)

Travel abroad advisories
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory advising U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. The State Department has urged U.S. citizens in countries where commercial departure options remain available to arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. The advisory has also cautioned US citizens living abroad to "avoid all international travel."

Students, faculty, staff, visitors and contractors arriving from a location designated by CDC to have a level 3 travel warning (including airport layovers) are required to self-quarantine at their permanent residence or off-campus residence for 14 days. Follow self-quarantine guidelines under “Exposure” on this chart.

Faculty and staff arriving from travel from a location designated by CDC to have a level 3 travel warning, regardless of the reason for their travel, should contact the UT Occupational Health Program at 512-471-4647.

Read the mandatory quarantine instructions above for travelers flying into Texas from certain states and cities.

Students, faculty, staff, visitors and contractors arriving from all other locations should practice social distancing and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days. Follow social distancing and self-monitoring guidelines under “Everyone” on this chart.

If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Follow standard guidelines for preventing upper respiratory infections under Prevention above
  • Travel with a thermometer to monitor your temperature and seek medical care if symptoms develop
  • Bring at least an additional two-week supply of prescription medications with you or know how to transfer your prescription to another pharmacy if the event you must self-isolate away from home
  • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate. Follow self-isolation guidelines under “Symptoms” in this chart.
  • Stay alert to travel advisories or restrictions and airline cancellations
  • Purchase refundable tickets or ones that allow for flexibility

If traveling internationally:

  • Know that this is a rapidly evolving situation and travel restrictions can change quickly, resulting in trip disruptions, inability to return to the U.S. indefinitely and possible quarantine abroad or upon return
  • Check whether your health insurance plan covers care outside the U.S
  • Purchase trip insurance with medical evacuation coverage
  • Keep cell phones fully charged
  • Check email at least daily (if traveling abroad)
  • Travel with all key documents, including passport and insurance documents
  • Share your itinerary with your family and emergency contacts

For more information:
For the latest information about coronavirus, please visit the dedicated CDC webpage.

Students impacted by these regulations can contact Student Emergency Services for support and guidance. International Students who are unable to return to the United States should contact Texas Global International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

For some, navigating these circumstances can be personally and emotionally challenging. The Counseling and Mental Health Center is available as a resource for students, including telecounseling appointments. The UT Employee Assistance Program is a resource for faculty and staff and can also arrange telecounseling appointments.

For more information:

For the latest information about coronavirus, please visit the dedicated CDC webpage. Texas Global also offers travel advice for individuals with planned travel to regions with cases of COVID-19.

hours Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm by appointment Monday - Friday, 8am to 5pm
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512) 471-4955 (512) 471-4955
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University Health Services is committed to providing high-quality care to patients of all ages, races, ethnicities, physical abilities or attributes, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identities/expression.


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