Ohio State University: 2 members of university community have COVID-19

Posted at 1:58 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 13:58:53-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two members of The Ohio State University community have tested positive for COVID-19, President Michael V. Drake said on Wednesday. Both people are quarantined at home.

The cases are the first within the OSU community, Drake said, and officials have informed students, faculty and staff. The university is on spring break until March 22, then classes transition to virtual learning.

Both people who tested positive had returned to Ohio after separate out-of-state business trips; one person traveled to the east coast, and the other person traveled to the west coast.

One of the people who tested positive had returned to campus for a portion of a business, but had no contact with students and had limited contact with others, Drake said. The other person did not return to campus.

Wexner Medical Center experts have been working closely with health officials to investigate any close contacts on campus. Anyone who may have been exposed to either person has been contacted and is self-quarantining for 14 days from their last close contact.

“If you have not been contacted, you do not need to take any special precautions beyond the routine actions of monitoring your own health for symptoms of COVID-19 as well as practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene,” Drake said in a letter to the community.

Drake asked that people do not share the identities of the people on social media, as it violates HIPAA.

“Ensuring the anonymity of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 is important so that they can focus fully on their health and the care they need,” Drake said.

You can email for more information.

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:


  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.


  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.


  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
  • See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to 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. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms, but it can be spread even at asymptomatic stages.