High Alert (Orange)

Limited activities occur on campus

The university alert level is currently orange. The change from yellow is an indicator that while conditions on campus remain stable, regional trends are of concern, with an increasing number of cases and higher levels of community spread of COVID-19. The alert level is subject to change as we continue to monitor conditions. We are grateful for your efforts to help keep our community safe. COVID-19 remains a very real and dynamic threat and we must remain focused and keep following our public health principles. Importantly, our Washington University community is faring better than our surrounding community because of each of your efforts. Thank you, and while we know it is hard to sustain, please keep up the great work of protecting each other.

WATCH VIDEO: Dr. Steve Lawrence provides an update on the switch from yellow to orange alert level on October 23, 2020


Research activity levels are indicated by a separate color-coded system and are not directly tied to the university alert level. To see current status of different types of research activities, and to learn more about the research activity level system, please visit the Guidance for Researchers on COVID-19 page on the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research website.


The university will operate under an alert level system that uses four levels to indicate the severity of COVID-19 transmission in the St. Louis region and/or on campus. These levels will determine the nature of campus operations.

Very High Alerts (Red) – Stay at home orders are in place
High Alert (Orange) – Limited activities occur on campus
Moderate Alert (Yellow) – Open with many protective measures still actively in place
Low Alert (Green) – New Normal


We will continually monitor conditions and will adjust our alert level as the circumstances require. Factors that could raise or lower the alert level include: Transmission rates, accessibility to testing, availability of personal protective equipment, contact tracing capabilities, capacity of health care systems, and rate of compliance with public health requirements, both on- and off-campus. We also must consider the effectiveness of our ability to successfully manage isolation and quarantine housing and individual compliance with university directives not to leave designated isolation or quarantine spaces.

A shift to Very High Alert (Red) would likely mean a need to limit activity on campus and potentially to significantly reduce campus density. If this were to occur, we would take care to provide as much advance notice as possible to students, faculty and staff in order to make necessary arrangements for travel or other needs for their individual situations.


A COVID Monitoring Team has been established to oversee the implementation of the alert level system, with guidance from infectious diseases experts at the School of Medicine. The team, which includes campus leaders in medicine, public health, emergency management and logistics, will coordinate the collection and review of data related to COVID-19 prevalence in the university and St. Louis communities and recommend the appropriate level of campus operations based on current conditions.