Vital Information about COVID-19 for the Fountain House Community

Posted on March 4, 2020

Dear Fountain House community,

A new coronavirus (officially named COVID-19) has impacted thousands of people worldwide and there are now confirmed cases here in New York. Fountain House is monitoring the status of the outbreak so we can share vital information with our community and will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months.

Your health and safety is our top priority. Members and staff have put together the following information to help minimize virus exposure, reduce anxiety, and keep us connected through what could otherwise become an isolating period of time.

What is coronavirus? Are we at risk? How does it spread?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases, including pneumonia. The virus can spread from person-to-person contact, which means people who are usually within six feet of each other and by respiratory droplets from people who are coughing and sneezing. Early evidence suggests that COVID-19 may spread on surfaces, such as desks, keyboards, bathrooms and phones, that have been touched by someone experiencing active symptoms.

Some members of our community who experience chronic physical illnesses such as respiratory disease, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases, face a greater risk of more severe symptoms and of complications from COVID-19 infection. Active smokers are also at higher risk of developing more severe illness and complications.

How can I reduce the risk of exposure or transmission?

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue, cloth or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on all sides, or use an alcohol-based (minimum 70% alcohol) hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch your face or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Do not share food, drink or eating utensils with others, if avoidable.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched items and surfaces, such as phones, computers, bathrooms and doorknobs.
  • If you are a smoker, stop using or limit cigarettes and vaping.
    Fountain House supports efforts to quit smoking through our smoking cessation group that meets every Tuesday at 3pm in the Guest House, located next door to Fountain House on West 47th Street. Alternatively, individuals can call the New York State Smokers Quitline at 866-NY-QUITS (866-697-8487).
  • Stay home if you do not feel well, especially if you have a fever (>100.4F) or active cough, and seek medical care early.

What should I do if I do not feel well?

Please stay home, especially if you have a fever (>100.4F) or active cough, and seek medical care early. Members should contact their primary care doctor, make an appointment at the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center, or visit an urgent care clinic for evaluation.

If members are home sick, please call Fountain House at (212) 582-0340 during regular operating hours or the Fountain House Warm Line at (212) 956-0700 after hours to let us know. This information will enable us to keep track of incidence within our community and reach out to ensure you are resting, recovering, and have support for your basic needs.


Please share this message with members, staff and other community participants.

For the most up-to-date resources, information and guidance on the coronavirus epidemic, please consult the following resources:




Ashwin Vasan, M.D., PhD

President and CEO, Fountain House

Assistant Professor, Mailman School of Public Health and Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons at Columbia University


Ralph Aquila, M.D.

Medical Director and Director of the Center for Leadership and Education, Fountain House

Director, HRH/Brightpoint Health Sidney R. Baer Jr. Center


Craig Bayer

Member, Fountain House


Bianca Ortiz

Member, Fountain House

Awards + Recognition

BBB Accredited Charity

Our Global Partners

World Health Organization

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