COVID-19: What everyone should know

COVID-19 has been circulating among humans for just over six months, and during that time we have learned much about the virus and how it is transmitted. This knowledge allows us to better understand how to protect ourselves and our community .

Transmission of COVID-19 happens primarily person-to-person , through droplets that are created when people talk, cough, sneeze, or engage in similar activities that cause particles from the lungs to be expelled through the nose and mouth.

It is important to know that people who are infected with COVID-19 are contagious before they show symptoms , and some people never show symptoms at all (see also this article ). Because of this, the best advice is to treat everyone, even yourself, as if they are contagious with COVID-19. The simple precautions below can help reduce the chances of infection.

One of the most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 is by keeping distance between you and others (social distancing). As we return to work, we will:

  • Modify spaces to decrease population density. This can be in the form of markings on the floor showing appropriate distances, signage, limiting the number of people allowed in a space at one time, and rearranging furniture.
  • Decrease the number of people in an office by modifying work schedules and through telework.
  • Increase air circulation and let in fresh air where possible. This dilutes any COVID-19 virus present, thus reducing the risk of transmission .

Other methods of transmission are not as common, but are still important to understand so we can minimize the risk posed. Transmission from hard surfaces is possible, as the virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 3 days , and it is important to sanitize high-touch surfaces . The risk of transmission through HVAC systems is low, but it is possible.

Answers to many questions can be found at the CDC , WHO , and NM Department of Health (NMDOH). NMDOH provides specific guidance for New Mexico, including public health orders.


 

Personal Responsibility
(Updated: 07/28/20)

As members of the NMSU community, we are each responsible for our own health and safety. COVID-19 is new and there is still much we are learning about it, but we do know that through responsible behavior, we can reduce transmission of the virus and we can contribute to the health and safety of our colleagues across the NMSU system, as well as the communities and individuals we serve. Every member of the Aggie community needs to do their part as we battle COVID-19 together.

Prior to returning to campus, every student and employee will learn safety practices and precautions that can reduce transmission. For employees, this training will be offered through Training Central . For students, a video outlining expectations and personal responsibility will be viewed on Canvas as part of the syllabus for each course. As we learn more about COVID-19, NMSU will add more modules to this mandatory training. Included in this training is a statement of commitment to the safety of the NMSU community as is described below.


 


New Mexico State University COVID-19 Safety Commitment  
(Updated: 10/23/20)

To minimize the risk to public health presented by the spread of COVID-19 while working and learning at NMSU, students, staff, and faculty are expected to adhere to the following:

  • I will limit my exposure to COVID-19 by maintaining social distancing guidelines professionally and personally.
  • I will wear the appropriate cloth face covering or personal protective equipment and practice proper hand-washing techniques frequently.
  • I agree to closely monitor my health and will not enter an NMSU building or participate in face-to-face activities if I feel sick or if I develop or display symptoms of COVID-19.
  • I agree to decontaminate work surfaces at the beginning and end of my work.
  • If I have a positive test for COVID-19, I agree to immediately notify my supervisor and Aggie Health and Wellness (call 575-646-7375 or notify David Carbajal at campus_health@nmsu.edu).
  • I agree to follow all NMSU guidelines to protect the public health.
  • I understand that failure to follow these expected behaviors would be detrimental to public health efforts and could impact my ability to perform work at NMSU.

Anyone failing to meet any of these expectations may be subject to corrective action under university policies.

Recommendations relating to face coverings, monitoring, self-quarantine, and isolation will be updated in alignment with guidance from the New Mexico Department of Health. Changes will be communicated to the university community.


 


Do Your Part: Personal accountability and COVID-19

(Updated: 08/26/2020)

Because COVID-19 is a disease that spreads primarily from person to person, all employees, students and visitors are expected to take personal responsibility for their own health, protect the health of others, and keep the Aggie community safe from the spread of COVID-19 and other infections as identified and instructed by the university. A collection of videos produced by departments and organizations across campus provides additional information about expectations, accountability and additional steps being taken by the university to reduce the spread of the virus.

Aggies lead by example, and in many situations, a person not maintaining proper distance or wearing a face covering can be asked to support the shared goal of staying healthy or reminded of NMSU standards. Ways to address such situations include:

  • Handing a face covering to a person and saying, “Face coverings are required at NMSU. Here is one to use when you are on campus.”
  • Another option: “Face coverings are required on campus, and there is a vending machine nearby where you can purchase one.”
  • Social distancing reminders can be trickier: “Let’s all stay safe and keep our distance.” Or “This barrier (or the tape on the floor) is a reminder to maintain a safe distance.”

Each above approach requires each individual – whether student or employee – to exercise common courtesy and patience. Under no circumstance is either approach recommended to escalate into an argument or confrontation. If you suspect any resistance to your comment, politely exit the conversation immediately, and instead notify your supervisor of what has occurred. In alerting your supervisor, an appropriate additional step is to discuss additional strategies (signage, additional barriers, etc.) with that supervisor. If a person does not follow an NMSU directive that protects public health and safety, NMSU reserves a right to instruct that person to leave campus, unless NMSU has provided to that person an approval for an exception to that directive.


 


Approval for an Exception

(Added: 7/7/2020)

Some members of our community will not be able to wear a face covering in situations when one is expected by NMSU guidelines. Employees seeking to be excluded from the face covering requirement should notify their supervisor and contact the Office of Institutional Equity at 575-646-3635 for consideration for an exception approval. Part of the exception approval process will include protocols for the employee to follow (telework, change of office space or alternate controls) to help protect the health of other members of the NMSU community. Students seeking an exception approval should contact the  Dean of Students Office at 575-646-1722.