Miles Christopher, staff writer
As COVID-19, the disease known informally as “the Coronavirus”, continues to spread, Augsburg has released a short statement for all staff, students, and faculty. The statement, which can be found on the front page of Inside Augsburg, makes assurances that the University is tracking the outbreak and that they will follow recommendations from both the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as those recommendations are made. Currently, the MDH is not recommending the cancellation of public events, nor the closure of gathering spaces. However, as of press time, the University of Minnesota has announced plans to move entirely to online classes starting next Monday. As of press time, there have been a total of five COVID-19 cases confirmed in Minnesota, with more likely to follow.
The situation is further complicated by the symptoms’ similarity to seasonal influenza, making it difficult to be certain which virus is being dealt with until testing can be done. It should be noted that, with the proper precautions, COVID-19 has only a 3 percent mortality rate. Part of the reason for its ability to spread is its lack of severity, which allows carriers of the virus to continue their normal routines, albeit with a cough, fever and shortness of breath. The symptoms of COVID-19 are believed to be able to appear up to fourteen days after initial infection, with a small portion of infected people never developing symptoms at all. Those who do not develop symptoms are still believed to be able to transmit the virus, making it all the more important to be tested should one come into contact with someone infected with it. The virus is primarily transmitted via droplets expelled from coughing, although research is ongoing to determine any other routes of transmission.
The World Health Organization, CDC, the MDH, and many other organizations on local, national and international levels are working to limit the spread of COVID-19, as well as to develop a vaccine. Washing hands and maintaining good general health practices are believed to be effective in preventing transmission of the virus. It is also advised that individuals not buy more supplies than they truly need, in order to allow others, particularly those working in the healthcare industry, to purchase what they need. Furthermore, as per recommendations from the MDH, it is advised that anyone feeling sick remain home and cover their cough, although this can be difficult for some due to the less than adequate sick leave provided by many employers. The public is also being asked to refrain from creating or spreading false or misleading information about COVID-19, in order to suppress bad practices and to improve trust in factual information.
Augsburg’s statement, as well as the University’s Task Force and a short question and answer page, can be found at inside.augsburg.edu/outbreak-planning/