Dear UAF community,

I sent a campus wide message on Tuesday evening regarding confirmation of a UAF employee who tested positive for COVID-19 (PDF). Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our employees and students we closed the O’Neill Building and asked occupants to stay home and self-observe. At this time, we are working to assess other locations that the individual visited or may have accessed while on campus and if any further action is needed. No concerns have been expressed to us by state health officials in this regard.

UAF’s janitorial contractor had already been cleaning UAF’s facilities following CDC guidance so the O’Neill closure and cleaning was intended to specifically address any areas that the employee went as additional precautions.

Regarding the O’Neill building, it is our understanding that the employee visited the building on March 9 and 10 for a short time and went directly to his office. We know that the employee talked with two individuals on those days. It is our understanding that State of Alaska Public Health is aware of those individuals and has conducted their own assessment and taken action if deemed appropriate. Public health officials follow up with contacts they determine to be at medium or high risk, but don’t contact those that fall in a “low risk” category, such as people who may have passed by the employee in the hallway or were in the same room but more than six feet away.

Per CDC guidance, the virus is thought to spread mainly from close contact (defined below) between two people, when respiratory droplets may be exchanged between them. Based on CDC guidance, individuals who merely visited or passed through the building are not being asked to “self-observe” at this time. If CDC or public health guidance changes, we will reassess the precautionary measures being taken by the university.

Close contact
Close contact is defined as—a) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case; or b) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on).

If and when new information is known, I will continue to update the campus community.

— Dan White, chancellor
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