The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a respiratory disease that started in the city of Wuhan in China and has since spread to approximately 70 international locations, including the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, the “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.” As of now, scientists have found that the most common symptoms of the virus, after a two to fourteen-day exposure, include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The virus is spread through close person-to-person contact, and from touching infected objects and surfaces. There have been several cases of the coronavirus showing up in the United States since January 21, 2020. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been a total of 164 cases in the United States, between 19 states, with 11 fatalities. Of the 164 cases, 36 cases were “travel-related” infections, 18 were direct “person-to-person” infections, leaving 110 cases as “to be determined.” As far as scientists have found there are no vaccines or treatments, but countless tests are being run to create one.
Currently, there are no open cases within the state of Louisiana, but officials have started working on identifying and evaluating any suspected cases. Like the rest of Louisiana, Southern University has also begun preparations to help prevent the spread of the virus to students and faculty. According to the Southern University website, “System administration is continuously meeting with respective campus administrators and staff to determine plans for student housing, classes, and workdays in the event of a campus shutdown as a result of further coronavirus impact.”
One of the prevention tactics that the administration has put into effect is the cancellation of all International Travel and Study Abroad programs. Students and faculty are encouraged to consult university officials for travel advice per the CDC, in an open letter from the Southern University President Chancellor, Ray L. Belton. If a student or faculty member travels to any level 1 or 2 classified country should self-monitor his/her health for 14 days upon return to the United States and those traveling to a level 3 or 4 country should “not report to campus unless they have remained asymptomatic for the entire 14-day period. This recommendation also includes any individual with known contact with a CDC confirmed COVID-19 case or Department of Health Person Under Investigation for possible COVID-19 disease.”
For more information on what Southern University administration plans on doing about the spread of the novel Coronavirus, there will be an information session presented by the Southern University College of Nursing and Allied Health, and the Southern University System Foundation on March 10 at noon in the Valdry Center for Philanthropy building located near campus. This session will feature updates presented by Dr. Dawn Marcelle of the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Public Health. To help prevent the spread of the virus, please wash your hands and keep your everyday items clean.