University-related travel to areas of concern cancelled due to coronavirus

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In light of the coronavirus outbreak, Rowan University will suspend planned university-related travel through May 31 to any location designated as an area of concern by the Centers for Disease Control effective immediately, according to a university-wide email sent on Feb. 27.

While the university had taken extra precautions over the last month, this move represents an escalation of Rowan’s policy following new developments within the United States and internationally. This will affect students, staff and faculty. 

Student groups scheduled to take a university-related trip to a destination designated as Level 1 or higher will be cancelled. Students should reach out to their dean of students to cancel tickets or any arrangements that have already been made. The university will provide financial assistance to students who may suffer financial losses as a result of this temporary suspension.

“Over the past few days, there has been a surge of new Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) cases reported across the globe,” the email read. The university concedes the immediate risk within the United States is currently low, however this move has been made out of an abundance of caution.

“If there was a trip planned to a risk area, you can’t go,” Vice President of University Relations Joe Cardona said regarding university-related travel. “However, if its international travel to a place that’s not on the [list of risk areas], you can still go. We wanted to warn people that if that list changes, you may find yourself needing to cancel that.”

In the past week, the Centers for Disease Control have identified the first U.S. patient to contract novel corona virus inside the country. The California-based patient had not traveled anywhere known to have been inflicted by the virus and hadn’t been exposed to anyone who had been infected. This represents the first U.S. case of infection being spread within the community, elevating the threat level within the country.

On Saturday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a state of emergency after state officials confirmed the first death of a U.S. citizen within the United States.

While students are free to travel for personal trips, the university recommends consulting with the Wellness Center about precautions to take to combat the risk of transmission, especially if they are travelling to an area that has been designated as at an risk.

“We thought it was important with spring break, with people going all over the place, that we make sure we get that out there so people can start thinking about it,” Cardona said.

The university has also launched a new web page with updates on the status of the virus. It provides factual information regarding the virus and tips to stay healthy.

On Monday, the head of immunization at the CDC, Nancy Messonnier, made headlines during a conference call with reporters regarding the status of the disease.

“I understand this whole situation may seem overwhelming, and that disruption to everyday life may be severe,” Messonnier said. “But these are things that people need to start thinking about now.”

There have been 95,266 confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19, according to the John Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Of those cases, 80,409 have been confirmed in mainland China, while 5,621 have occurred in South Korea and 3,089 cases have been confirmed in Italy. The virus’ death toll recently surpassed 3,000, most in mainland China.

As of 8:30 p.m. on March 4, Governor Phil Murphy confirmed the first case of coronavirus within the state.

“We take this situation very seriously and have been preparing for this for weeks,” Murphy said in the press release. “I urge residents to remain calm.”

The university is also offering financial assistance to students studying abroad if they choose to return to the country. Those students should contact director of the International Center Gokhan Alkanat at 856-256-5191 or over email at alkanat@rowan.edu with any questions or concerns.

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