University undertakes preventative coronavirus measures: “Let’s look out for one another”
As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grows, governments and administrations have been taking preventive measures to protect the general public from further spread of the virus, including restricting travel to China. Carnegie Mellon University is no different. Recently, the university has begun taking precautionary actions to protect the community from possible infection of coronavirus.
On Jan. 22, University Health Services (UHS) sent an email to members of the Carnegie Mellon community regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Dr. Beth Kotarski, the Executive Director of UHS, advised the community to take health precautions, including washing hands, staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, getting plenty of rest, and getting the seasonal flu vaccine.
In a statement to The Tartan, Dr. Kotarski stressed the importance of hand washing: “It’s not too far off the mark to say that hand-washing literally flushes germs down the drain… if everyone on campus reading this would make a personal commitment to hand-washing frequently (every few hours and before and after every meal, lavatory use, after coughing or sneezing), then we would all benefit.”
Along with advising the community to take health precautions, UHS reported that they were “monitoring the emerging facts about the disease and working very closely with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) to understand and enact best practices for screening and treating any student who may report with symptoms.” Although there are few cases confirmed in the United States, “the concern with this virus is that it is new, and therefore health officials do not have experience with its long-term effects.”
One week later, an email from Provost James Garrett and Gina Casalegno, Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs, announced that Carnegie Mellon had issued a restriction on all Carnegie Mellon students, faculty, and staff from traveling to China for university purposes. They strongly advised those who were traveling to China for personal reasons to reconsider, following the U.S. State Department’s restriction on travel to China.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the university asked that “anyone who has traveled to China within the last 14 days to immediately self-isolate before coming to campus,” and that “any student with fever and cough who has been to China within the last 14 days should report to, or call University Health Services.”
On Monday, Feb. 3, President Farnam Jahanian followed up with an email urging the community to come together in support for those who have been affected by coronavirus: “Let’s look out for each other, be extra kind to others and lend a helping hand, or a listening ear, to ensure the well-being of every member in our community.”
Maureen Dasey-Morales, Associate Vice President for Community Health and Well-Being, told The Tartan that people who have been distressed because of the virus can also turn to resources provided by the university. “Student Affairs staff, including house fellows, college liaisons, residence life staff, CaPS, the Office of the Dean of Students, and Community Health and Well-Being staff are all available to provide support and have been reaching out to persons that may need additional support,” she said.
As President Jahanian wrote to The Tartan, “Together, we need to support those members of the CMU community who are experiencing high stress, whether they’re directly or indirectly affected… Let’s look out for one another and offer kindness.”