An update on the status of the Coronavirus and what the College is doing to ensure the safety of the Oxy community in addition to preventative measures.
As you may have heard, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency Thursday (while at the same time confirming its confidence in China’s ability to control the outbreak). While the virus continues to spread in China, where the vast majority of cases have been reported, there are only 11 confirmed cases in the U.S. Of these 11, five are in California, including one in Los Angeles and one in Orange County. There are no identified cases in the Oxy community. Based on current information, public health officials continue to place the risk of contracting the coronavirus within the U.S. as low, a characterization repeated by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in conjunction with the declaration of a national public health emergency Friday. Emmons Wellness Center staff are working closely with local and state health officials to monitor the situation at Oxy.
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory telling Americans not to go to China. Last week, several major airlines suspended service to and from China. There are currently no Oxy students studying in China; students who were planning to study there this spring have had their programs cancelled by our partner, CIEE. Those who were unable to find programs in other countries are returning to Oxy to join the semester already in progress.
There are currently no specific measures recommended for the prevention of the coronavirus alone, but the CDC and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advise to take the same precautionary methods as you would for the flu and other respiratory illnesses. These include:
Washing hands frequently and thoroughly, front and back and up to the wrist, with antibacterial soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds
Using an alcohol based hand sanitizer when a thorough hand washing is not available
Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes and these are mucal points of entry for germs and viruses
Covering your mouth with your elbow or into a tissue when you cough or sneeze, followed by immediately disposing of used tissues and washing hands
Remain home when ill unless seeking medical attention; wear a respiratory mask when leaving your home and in contact with other
Avoid close contact with sick individuals
I also want to acknowledge our international students from China who are worried about their family and friends back home and how important it is to offer them our support. Please know that the Oxy community is here for you and shares in your concerns. Counseling services at Emmons are available to you at any time and we have a number of Chinese-speaking therapists we can refer you to if you prefer. I invite and encourage all members of the Oxy community to show our international students from China kindness and compassion during this distressing time.
Sara Semal, director, Emmons Wellness Center