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Tulane Strong

Friday, March 20, 2020

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Dear Tulane Community:
 
We learned today that a member of the Tulane administration has tested positive for COVID-19. The administrator is self-isolating at home and is expected to make a full recovery. Following our protocol, we have reached out to everyone who has been in close contact with our colleague and are ensuring that they are being tested and are self-isolating. While this is the first presumptive or confirmed positive case in the Tulane community, there are a number of Tulane affiliated individuals, including health care workers, who are being tested. Based on the wide community spread of this virus currently underway in New Orleans, it is likely there will be additional cases in the Tulane community. While I thought it important for the community to know about our first case, going forward university-wide notification of every COVID-19 positive result is not practical or in the best interest of public health. Rather our campus health officials will work with COVID-19 positive individuals to ensure they are self-isolating and that their closest contacts have been notified. This case is a timely reminder that this virus can strike anyone at any time. It is also a call for all of us to continue to remain extra vigilant in practicing extreme social distancing and other measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
 
As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all facing an unprecedented challenge to our community and nation which, unlike others, affects everyone. I am so impressed by how the Tulane community has stepped up to this challenge in countless ways. Our scientists and health care professionals are on the front line in this fight, combatting the virus in our labs, hospitals and research facilities. Though heartbroken, our students are heading home with the hopes of seeing their classmates and friends again soon. Though displaced from their normal spaces and routines, our faculty are looking forward to resuming classes Monday – completely online for the first time. Our staff, so vital to everything we do, are working remotely with extraordinary dedication and commitment. And through all of these changes, another hallmark of the Tulane community has shone brightly – our ability to rally around and express care and concern for one another.
 
Usually, during times like these, we gather together in homes, restaurants, gyms, houses of worship and other common spaces. We draw our loved ones close, we clasp hands and we hug. Now, the extreme social distancing we are following on campus and in our personal lives can make this crisis seem particularly isolating and scary. The upheaval, loss of community and uncertainty brought on by this outbreak has also summoned memories of Hurricane Katrina, which so many of our community members endured.
 
However, I believe that the determination, strength and collective will that brought these Tulanians through the trial of Katrina will now empower them to triumph through these difficult times and will serve as an example of hope to us all. While we are separated physically, let each of us commit to using virtual technology, social media, phone calls and more to reach out to one another – not only for work or study, but for personal connection. This is especially important for those who may be feeling particularly isolated at this time – the student who cannot return home, the faculty or staff member who lives alone, the elderly, those who are self-isolating or maybe just the friend or relative you have not spoken to in some time. At our inner core, the DNA, the substance of Tulane and its people is resilience. This resilience and our collective strength will enable us to continue our commitment to our students, faculty and staff, including those most vulnerable to the upheaval and disruption of COVID-19.
 
Although we have entered a “new normal,” this difficult time will not endure. But the Tulane spirit, the Tulane commitment and the people of Tulane will.

Signature of Mike Fitts