University gets first presumed positive coronavirus case, spring break moved up, prepare for online classes after
Managing News Editor
The university has its first presumed positive coronavirus case, university officials announced Wednesday afternoon. The individual in question is connected to the university community, they said.
“We’ve been very lucky with the spread of the coronavirus disease, not to be one of the first states that’s had to deal with it,” Gov. John Carney said at a press conference this afternoon. “We’ve had the opportunity to learn from other states. We’ve been expecting this and planning for weeks, and we are ready. We are not panicking and neither should you.”
The individual is described as a man over 50 from New Castle County associated with the University of Delaware community. The man was exposed to another confirmed case in another state.
Health officials said he self-isolated in his home when the symptoms first appeared.
“The individual is not severely ill and is doing well,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of Delaware Public Health (DPH).
No other information will be disclosed from DPH. Anyone who has had close contact with the individual will be contacted by DPH for testing.
The university posted across social media platforms announcing the development and stated that spring break will now begin Saturday, effectively moving it up by one week. A letter from University President Dennis Assanis, posted on UDaily and emailed to the university community, said classes are suspended Thursday and Friday. Classes will resume online on Monday, March 23 until further notice.
“Residence halls will remain open, and Dining Services will provide meals as needed,” Assanis stated in the letter. “Students who choose to leave campus for the break should take whatever personal and academic materials they might need to complete the semester online.”
The letter goes on to state that students should expect to complete the remainder of the semester online until further notice.
Delaware Sen. Tom Carper sent out a statement on Wednesday regarding the confirmed case, noting that last week he, Sen. Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester “voted to approve an emergency spending package allocating $8.3 billion to fight the novel coronavirus.”
The emergency package also includes an allocation of over $4.3 million in funds for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assistance.
In the press statement, Carper wished the individual in question a “speedy recovery” before noting that officials have “been working diligently and preparing to keep our communities safe.”
Carper noted that he will be ready to assist Gov. Carney, and continued on to emphasize the need for a “all hands on deck approach.”
“It’s important to not panic but to be proactive; make sure to take the common-sense steps that can keep you and your family healthy, like washing your hands with soap and water, covering your cough and staying home when you are sick,” Carney wrote. “I also urge all Delawareans to follow the most up-to-date guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Delaware Health and Social Services, health care providers, and health care professionals.”
To keep the university community safe, officials have suspended sponsored travel through the end of the spring semester and discourages personal travel during spring break. With larger on-campus events such as the UDance cancellation this week, it is clear university officials are evaluating any possible steps to limit the spread of the diseases.
The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on Wednesday, inspiring worldwide closures. Shortly after the announcement in a press media conference in Wilmington, media vans from NBC were seen on campus covering the first presumed positive case in Delaware.
University officials said to maintain your hygiene and physical health to combat the disease. The CDC website offers guidelines to limit the spread of the illness, including such steps as washing your hands often, limiting outside contact, and staying home if you are sick.
“Any students, faculty, and staff who have concerns about potential exposure risks should contact the University of Delaware’s Call Center at (302) 831-1188 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.”