As fear surrounding the new coronavirus spreads in the USA, scares pop up almost daily at college campuses. Administrators have canceled sporting events and travel to China. Some on campus have taken to wearing masks. Others have launched petitions to cancel class.
The concern has some merit: Universities house a large number of students in high-density residence halls and apartment buildings, conditions ripe for spreading viruses. Many of them are international students, returned from places such as China, which sends more students to the USA than any other foreign country. Others are Americans coming home from semesters or January terms abroad or leaving for overseas – and considering making other plans as the virus spreads worldwide.
Just as significant as the battle to keep students healthy: maintaining calm on campus without stigmatizing anyone.
The bulk of the more than 8,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide are in China, where more than 170 people have died. Authorities confirmed five coronavirus cases in the USA, including in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington. A person with a connection to Arizona State University is one of those infected. More than 160 other cases are pending.
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A statement from Arizona State University said the person infected “is not severely ill and is currently in isolation to keep the illness from spreading.” A spokesman would not clarify the person’s affiliation with the university.
According to Arizona health officials, the person returned from Wuhan, China, the city where the virus is suspected to have originated.