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Coronavirus affects TAMIU campus

Coronavirus affects TAMIU campus

By Maria Reynero
Bridge contributing writer 
Published Monday, April 20, 2020

As the threat of COVID-19 spread, TAMIU’s policy began and continues to be following the regulations and guidelines of the City of Laredo Health Department. Since the initial spread, the campus was partially closed for many activities, face masks are required to enter campus buildings, and other initiatives set forth by Laredo.

A virus which began as a case in Wuhan, China, became an outbreak, and spread to numerous other countries before becoming a global pandemic. The coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, spread to the U.S. It can be deadly once it causes the COVID-19 disease. Anyone showing symptoms is encouraged to seek medical attention and supervision.

As of April 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website indicates the total U.S. reported coronavirus cases at 720,630, including 37,202 deaths. These statistics include all 50 states and several U.S. territories. Texas alone shows 18,260 cases. So far, there are no reported cases in the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia or Palau.

New York was hit the hardest, showing 233,570 cases and its neighbor New Jersey at 81,436 cases. Most other larger population states are between 10,000 to 36,000 cases each. The smallest numbers for the states are Alaska at only 314 cases and Wyoming with 423 and Montana with 426.

“[The] CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China … Reported illnesses have ranges from mild to severe, including resulting in death,” according to the CDC website in February.

Health officials studied the virus to discover its respiratory nature, which makes it faster for people to be severely affected.

“It looks like it’s being spread through aerosol droplets,” TAMIU biology instructor Oscar Ramos said in February 2020. “That’s one of the reasons that it’s highly contagious because there are aerosols that come out of your system, and in those aerosols we have the viral particles themselves so it’s the respiratory route.”

The respiratory system is able to bring oxygen and other particles into one’s body, Ramos said, and so these aerosol droplets are inhaled as well and can contaminate nearby people.

“When there is a health outbreak on campus, whether it’s the flu, the coronavirus or meningitis, we have certain standards that we have to follow so we base ourselves on the practice of the City [of Laredo] Health Department,” Director of Student Health Services Claudia Beltran said. “They are the entity in our community that dictates what we’re going to do in a health outbreak. In this situation like the coronavirus, we have certain guidelines that we follow and the Health Department is very responsible in the fact that they send updates every so often whenever new information comes out.” 

There are certain protocols to take when a virus like this threatens a community. TAMIU officials train to prepare for a variety of health outbreaks on campus. They rely on the Health Department for a variety of necessary actions.

“An emergency response kicks in when there is any type of emergency,” Beltran said in February. “We … basically follow what the Health Department [tells] us in that instance. What we do, we start screening students or faculty or whoever it would be here on campus for symptoms that are indicative for coronavirus.

“In this case, if it were to outbreak then we go into what is called an emergency response. Basically, we would set up like a quarantine and so we would have to isolate certain people. Based on what the Health Department tells us, so if they say we would need to keep people here on campus, the living communities like the dorms or the village is where we would start.”

Since February, TAMIU began to implement plans throughout March as it followed Health Department protocols.

“…not approve any foreign travel by Texas A&M International University students, faculty and staff while the outbreak of COVID-19 remains a dynamically changing and uncertain situation. Summer programs, including exchange programs, are also on hold until further notice,” President Pablo Arenaz told all University employees in an early March email.

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