The MBL continues to closely monitor developments related to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and is planning for the possible impacts to our campus.
While the risk to residents in Massachusetts remains low according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the safety of our faculty, staff, and students is the MBL’s primary concern. As the situation evolves, we are writing to update you on the actions we are taking to protect the health of our community.
A subgroup of the MBL’s Incident Management Team has convened to plan response strategies and to work through potential scenarios with the goal of maintaining a continuity of research, education, and administrative activities. We are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH) and are coordinating with the University of Chicago.
The MBL is fully operational at this time and we will operate as usual until circumstances dictate otherwise. While we expect travel cancellations will impact individuals coming from severely affected overseas locations to our conferences and courses, there are no travel restrictions within the US at this time and no broad US-wide directives to cancel gatherings (i.e. in schools, conferences, athletic events etc.) or recommendations regarding social distancing.
Human Resources is evaluating policies and processes related to time away from work and alternative working arrangements. Updates and guidance will be available next week.
As far as travel goes, we strongly advise against travel to countries with “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission” of COVID-19. These countries currently are China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. If you do travel to those countries, you must stay at home and not return to the campus until 14 days from the time you departed that country. Because the CDC list of travel advisories is being continually updated, you should carefully consider the need for any international travel over the next few months.
In addition, visitors to the MBL from this same group of countries cannot join us on campus until they have successfully completed 14 days of self-quarantine. We do not have the capability to allow that self-quarantine in our campus housing.
We have established a webpage (https://goforward.mbl.edu/) to share information and resources regarding safeguarding personal health and travel guidance. We will post an archive of message updates on this page, including any major effects on operations, should they occur. We ask all staff to use this website as an ongoing resource. New updates will be posted moving forward.
Environmental Services (EVS) personnel have increased cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and restrooms in MBL buildings. In addition, hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in the lobbies of most buildings. Employees should clean their own workspaces to reduce infection spread. Supplies are available through EVS. More information is available on the MBL’s coronavirus webpage.
I encourage you to stay informed and make sure that you are aware and following the guidelines outlined by the CDC and MA DPH. Anyone who is ill or thinks they may be ill should stay home from work and seek medical care, as necessary.
We will continue to review and adapt our planning and strategies as the outbreak evolves and will keep you informed on a regular basis. Staff may contact Ann Egan, Director of Human Resources, (firstname.lastname@example.org; x7622) with any questions or concerns or contact email@example.com.
Paul Speer PhD
Chief Operating Officer
Marine Biological Laboratory