Coronavirus prompts campus preparations

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Photo by Antonio Pequeño

Student Health & Counseling Services is located across from the USU.

Antonio Pequeño, Editor-in-Chief

As new updates on the coronavirus entered the news cycle over the past week, CSUSM shared further information on the respiratory disease with respect to the campus community.

Campus Risk Manager & Director of Integrated Risk Management (IRM) Erin Fullerton said that IRM is “taking the appropriate steps to plan and prepare for anything that may disrupt usual campus operations, and to keep our campus and community healthy.”

IRM has an incident management team that has been meeting since late January. Fullerton explained that the campus epidemic and pandemic response plan has been reviewed and updated accordingly. As a means of preparation, IRM will conduct a Tabletop Exercise later this week that will entail a run through of various scenarios.

“If someone were to present with symptoms of COVID-19 (the illness caused by this strain of coronavirus), and met the other criteria to be considered as a possible COVID-19 case, our SHCS [Student Health and Counseling Services] staff would work closely with the San Diego County Department of Health for the appropriate treatment, quarantine/isolation, and other appropriate measures” said Fullerton.

On Feb. 28, CSUSM’s Office of Communications released an email update to campus members about coronavirus developments, spring break travel considerations and prevention tips. The email also announced the launch of a coronavirus information website that can be found at https://www.csusm.edu/incident/.

According to the webpage, coronavirus symptoms may include, “a high fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, similar to what you may feel with influenza or a bad cold.” The incubation period of the coronavirus, that is, the duration between first exposure and subsequent symptoms, is 2-14 days.

The webpage encourages students to practice good hygiene, become familiar with symptoms and seek immediate care if they have visited an affected region. Receiving the flu shot is also encouraged, although, the shot will not protect you from the coronavirus. This does not lower the value of getting a flu shot, as the CDC estimated that at least 18,000 people have died as a result of the 2019-2020 U.S. flu season.

The Feb. 28 email concludes with a link to a CDC resource entitled “Share facts. Not Fear.” The resource shares five facts that cover everything from stigmas surrounding the coronavirus and its risk level to prevention tips and quarantine information. This information can be found at https://tinyurl.com/uupg8uj.

On the note of misinformation, Fullerton addressed the popularized belief that face masks are an effective means of preventing one from contracting coronavirus.

“The CDC and other public health officials do not recommend the use of face masks as an effective prevention mechanism,” said Fullerton. “That being said, it is important to remember that people wear face masks for a variety of reasons, such as to avoid pollen or air pollution, or for cultural reasons, so you should not assume that someone wearing a face mask is sick.”

For those interested in following the statistics about all known global cases, Johns Hopkins University is continuously updating an interactive web-based dashboard that visualizes and tracks reported cases. As of this article’s publishing, the dashboard has reported 3,491 total deaths and 57,389 recoveries.

A highly informative situation summary about the virus can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html.

Students can reach out to SHCS at 760-750-4915 with any health questions or concerns.