Story by Anna-JO Stuart, Opinion Editor & Elizabeth Schoof, Editor in Chief
Photo courtesy of Eye Witness News
COVID-19, more commonly known as Coronavirus, is altering activity in communities all over the world, including Aquinas.
As of the date of publication, there are twelve potential cases of COVID-19 in the state of Michigan. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also announced that widespread transmission of the virus is nearly certain. It is suggested that every state will be affected by the Coronavirus. Individuals who have contracted the virus experience flu-like symptoms along with a dry cough. However, due to the nature of the virus, there is up to a two week incubation period before symptoms start to show. Individuals may not be aware they are carriers, which means that it is vital to take proper preventative measures to avoid contracting or transmitting the virus.
The virus thus far seems to only cause severe symptoms in people who are elderly and/or have underlying health conditions. People in good health seem to fully recover. However, even if individuals are not within the higher risk population it is still very important to practice the proper precautions recommended by the CDC to help reduce the spread of the disease.
The CDC currently recommends that people wash their hands frequently for a minimum of 20 seconds, especially before eating and after using the restroom. It is also recommended that people do not touch their faces, avoid those who are feeling ill, and stay home if they are feeling unwell. If someone has symptoms and needs to leave their home, they should wear a mask. Again, it is vital to note that masks should only be used for 20 minutes each before they should be replaced.
The CDC does not recommend that healthy people wear masks, as there is no evidence supporting that healthy people wearing masks will avoid getting sick. Wearing masks may actually cause people to touch their faces more, increasing the chances of contracting the virus.
Though there have not yet been any cases of the virus at Aquinas, there are some guidelines that the community should abide by. Besides following the personal recommendations of the CDC, Aquinas College has also imposed some travel restrictions. The college has suspended all non-essential travel to areas infected by COVID-19 and is actively working to bring all students participating in study abroad programs back to the United States as well. Despite the travel ban that was placed on March 11, students in France and Ireland will be returning to the United States on Saturday, March 14. The ban allows for US citizens and legal permanent residents, as well as individuals from the United Kingdom, to enter the country. It has, however, banned travelers from other areas of Europe.
The biggest and perhaps most significant decision made by Aquinas this week came on March 12, when the college announced that it will be extending Spring Break until March 20 and switching to distance learning from March 23 until April 24. Students have been asked to return home and wait for more information, but if the college follows the methods put into place by many other universities, it is likely that courses will be done online. Students will be allowed to return to campus from March 15-18 to get any personal belongings required for them to be away from campus.
The college will remain open and operational during this time. For up-to-date information from the college visit https://www.aquinas.edu/resources/coronavirus.
For up to date recommendations, travel restrictions, and other information on COVID-19 visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html.