WMU creates ‘COVID-19 Task Force’ in response to coronavirus threat

WMU's Sindecuse Health Center.

Another student at WMU has tested positive for COVID-19medical director of Sindecuse Health Center, Gayle Ruggiero announced in an email on April 1.

On March 27, the university announced that three students have tested positive for COVID-19. This makes the fourth WMU community member to have tested positive as of April 1. 

The university was informed by the student. The student left their university apartment on March 24 and returned to a permanent residence outside of Kalamazoo County. 

The university will take appropriate precautions to limit access to the apartment, while also respecting privacy, Ruggiero said in the email. 

The full text of the statement reads: 

Dear Campus Community, 
The University has learned that a student has tested positive for COVID-19 (the coronavirus). We were informed that the student, who is a University apartment resident, returned home to a permanent residence outside of Kalamazoo County on March 24. Nevertheless, the University will take appropriate precautions to limit access to the apartment, while also respecting privacy. 
How positive cases are managed 
To enhance safety, we work to notify facilities and custodial workers who have access to spaces that may be, or may have been, occupied by a patient. 
If an individual—or a family member of an individual—notifies us he or she has COVID-19, my team and I work with that person, family members, and medical providers to verify the diagnosis. When the diagnosis is confirmed, we work with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department (health department) and assess close contacts of the patient. 
If the patient lives in Kalamazoo County, we work through county health department protocols, which include notification of all persons needing additional services. If the individual lives outside this county, those agencies work together to provide guidelines for that person. The health department plays a vital role in tracking and notification. 
Self-diagnoses are beginning to strain our care providers and other personnel. If you believe you have COVID-19, please visit your care provider (always call ahead) and get assessed first. Well-meaning notifications that are unconfirmed create unnecessary fear and confusion in an already stressful situation. We ask students, faculty, staff and family members to contact Sindecuse to report positive cases. Sindecuse will work with the University and public health officials to handle effective notifications. 
WMU has taken the necessary steps to provide appropriate social distancing to flatten the curve. I urge you to take advantage of these measures and stay home. The United States has surpassed China with the most COVID-19 cases in the world, and Michigan ranks among the top states in the U.S. for positive cases. 
We continue to meet the needs of our University family (faculty, staff and students), and we encourage those who need care to reach out and call: 


●    Sindecuse Health Center (269) 387-3287 
●    Counseling and Psychiatric Services (269) 387-1850 


All told, the population of WMU approaches 30,000, about the size of a small city. Keeping us all safe requires a coordinated response. On daily matters, I work very closely with my COVID-19 Task Force co-chairs, Dr. Jennifer Bott, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Tony Proudfoot, vice president for marketing and strategic communications. They are both members of the President’s Cabinet, and they escalate policy decisions to that body and the president, as appropriate. 
Please be reassured we are all working together to navigate this complex public health crisis, and I will continue to provide updates. In the event of additional positive cases, the campus community will be notified through the University's COVID-19 website, which is regularly updated with information on WMU's response to the outbreak. 
Gayle Ruggiero, M.D. 
Medical Director 
Sindecuse Health Center 
Office: (269) 387-1850 

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