Thursday, October 22, 2020

MSU's coronavirus plan and potential response

February 28, 2020
<p>Olin Health Center photographed on Feb. 27, 2020.</p>

Olin Health Center photographed on Feb. 27, 2020.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Michigan State is taking steps to prevent the virus from reaching campus and is preparing for scenarios in cases.

The disease, caused by a member of the coronavirus family, is rapidly evolving and most cases have been mild, but that means it spreads easier. Symptoms appear two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The disease spreads person-to-person for people within close contact, or around within six feet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate a drug has begun at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The drug is being tested as a cure for the disease.

Michigan State's response

The coronavirus is being monitored by the university, President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in an email sent out to the MSU community Thursday.

According to Stanley's email, a university committee is developing contingency plans for accommodating housing and educational needs of international students that may be unable to travel home for the summer, as well as for students expected to arrive next fall semester.

There are two different contingency plans, said MSU spokesperson Emily Gerkin Guerrant.

The first plan is to assist international students that might need to find housing or employment for the summer, but will be on a case-by-case basis. The second plan is the reaction in case there is an outbreak in Michigan, which could potentially include canceling classes, she said.

As the outbreaks increase, an underlying fear remains present. MSU created a website to monitor and update the community.

In order to mitigate any potential sickness at the university, MSU has called for the return of any students or faculty that are in locations that might be at risk of an outbreak and by communicating with students to treat this outbreak like any cold and flu season.

Addressing stigma

The university has been talking to international students to remind them that they are welcome here, and discourages racism that they may be experiencing.

Guerrant said the university was communicating with international students the most.

"MSU is an inclusive and global university, and times like this call for an extra measure of understanding and awareness," Stanley said in the email.

In order to limit the possibility of infection, MSU has created a COVID-19 task force with three different work groups to respond to the outbreak, one focused on health, one on travel and programming, and one on student, faculty and staff reporting.

Changes to travel abroad

The travel and programming work group is responsible for the decision to halt study abroad trips to China, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong through the end of July. This came after the World Health Association declared the coronavirus a global health emergency.

They also are responsible for reinstating programming, according to an email sent to the MSU community Friday from COVID-19 Co-chair's Elizabeth Alexander and Chris Daniel.

The outbreak has been closely monitored in Wuhan, China, but more and more cases have been reported in surrounding countries.

In Italy, for example, there have been 21 known deaths and over 800 reported cases. MSU has been closely monitoring the outbreak in Italy and is taking it day-by-day to determine if travel will be postponed, Guerrant said.

President Stanley's full email can be viewed below.

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