Follow-up from Emmons Wellness Center

Occidental has been closely monitoring the emerging public health crisis out of China known as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), commonly referred to as the “coronavirus.” Updates on what you as a community member should know.

The 2019-nCoV is a flu-like pneumonia derived from exposure to large seafood from a live animal market in Wuhan, China. There is now evidence that the virus can be transmitted via human-to-human contact and is spreading to regions outside of Asia. This past week there have been five confirmed cases in the United States, including two in Southern California that were identified on Sunday, January 26. Public health officials expect that number to increase, despite extensive efforts to screen travellers in major U.S. airports with flights from China, including LAX.

It is important to know that in most cases the coronavirus poses no greater risk than the common flu virus. For the vast majority of people who have had the illness, symptoms are mild (like a cold or flu) and they resolved after several days.  Most of the deaths in China caused by the virus were people at least 50 years old with pre-existing medical problems or compromised immune systems. Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health, has said that the immediate health risk to the general public in California is low, based on current information. We will continue to keep the community informed of important new developments.

What to Know

  • There are currently no identified cases in the Occidental community. We have scores of students, faculty and staff who are from or frequently travel to China; as far as we know, only one travelled near Wuhan during the break. That individual recently reported flu-like symptoms, was tested and found not to be infected with coronavirus.

  • Currently, there are no Oxy students studying in China. The spring overseas study program in Shanghai doesn’t begin until February 26. The International Programs Office has been in touch with the Council on International Educational Exchange and will continue to monitor the situation.

  • Emmons Wellness Center staff are working closely with local and state health officials to monitor the situation at Oxy and protect the health and well-being of the Occidental community.

  • We encourage members of the Occidental community who may have recently traveled from the Wuhan area to seek medical care immediately if they start exhibiting any symptoms (listed below).

  • Consistent with the recommendations of U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Chinese health authorities, Oxy community members are advised not to travel to the Wuhan area of China and avoid nonessential travel to China for the time being.

  • The World Health Organization continues to meet and provide public updates on this situation. We will relay this information to the Occidental community as it becomes available.


Sara Semal, director, Emmons Wellness Center