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Universities around the state developing plans as coronavirus worries increase

IU Campus
Posted at 6:42 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 18:52:30-05

BLOOMINGTON — As concerns about the the coronavirus outbreak intensify, universities throughout the state are developing plans.

Indiana University's director of emergency management Brad Seifers said he is in meetings daily and constantly monitoring news about the virus known as COVID-19 that originated in China.

Seifers said his primary role is to prepare and respond to incidents at the seven IU campuses across the state, and the coronavirus is a top priority.

"Our plan and our policies lay out how to respond," Seifers said. "We have basically been doing an internal test with the university and our external partners to say do we have the proper locations to isolate people? What steps would we be taking? How quickly could we respond?"

As fears spread about the outbreak, IU students are also trying to educate themselves.

"I don't really know much about it, outside of what the news outlets are telling us and what IU has been informing us with their e-mails," Tracy Lamptey said.

Lamptey said she has received several emails from the university about steps being taken to protect students and the campus community.

"They have just been telling us that right now it's on a case by case basis," Lamptey said. "There has been no record of it being here in Indiana, just yet. They are still taking precautions and meeting about it and talking about it."

The university has a pandemic plan that can be put in place to stop the outbreak of any infectious disease. Aside from working with state and local officials, IU is also learning from other universities and finding out how they responded to coronavirus cases.

"Our peer institutions sharing information right now pretty unprecedented," Seifers said. "A lot of universities are connecting on a daily basis on what they are doing to prepare. I've had a lot of contact Arizona State University on what their response looked like."

Other universities in the state have released statements regarding coronavirus:

Purdue University

"People in the U.S. are at vastly greater risk of serious health concerns from the flu than coronavirus, at least for the foreseeable future. Still, Purdue’s commitment to the health and safety of its community has led the university to take the precaution of canceling all university-sponsored travel to countries the CDC has listed as level 2 and level 3 risks for coronavirus. Countries currently at these levels of risk are China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan. The university’s public health committee will continue to monitor CDC updates, will take additional steps if any countries are added to the list, and will notify the campus community of any changes to current practice."

Butler University
"Butler University is closely monitoring the global coronavirus situation and making any necessary preparations. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at Butler, and we are proactively screening all student-patients who visit Butler Health Services. No Butler students were studying abroad in China during fall 2019, and we do not have any students in China this semester. Butler has temporarily suspended University travel to and from China for faculty, staff, and students."

Ball State University
"Consistent with Ball State University policies and procedures, anytime the U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Advisory Level 4 designation for a particular region we suspend all work-related travel. This was effective starting January 30 and it will remain in place until the U.S. State Department reduces the travel advisory level. Our goal is to keep our Ball State community – including our employees and students – safe."

Marian University
"While no confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in Indianapolis, we are taking proactive measures by:

Screening all student-patients who visit student health services. The screenings consist of a questionnaire to evaluate exposure risk. The exposure criteria that have been identified by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as risk factors for the 2019-nCoV include the following:

  • Fever AND cough/difficulty breathing within the last 14 days in persons who have traveled from Wuhan City, China, or have been in close contact with a person who is under investigation for Coronavirus.
  • Fever OR cough/difficulty breathing within the last 14 days in persons who have had close contact with a person with a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of Coronavirus.

Temporarily suspending University travel to and from China for faculty, staff, and students, but we will continue monitoring the situation and adjust accordingly. No Marian students were studying abroad in China during fall 2019 and we do not have any students in China this semester."