Category: Health

CARES Act provides campus loaner laptops

CARES Act provides campus loaner laptops

By Gabriela Chapa
Bridge Staff Intern

Published Monday, Sept. 14, 2020

Purchasing 500 laptops for its new Student Loaner Laptop Program, TAMIU helps students continue course attendance during the fall semester.

As the times continue to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the return to face-to-face classes, Texas A&M International University released a new program where students can check out a laptop for the semester.

The Student Loaner Laptop Program was created through the TAMIU CARES Program with the goal of helping students who struggle with technology and want to continue their classes. TAMIU purchased these devices that are being distributed to students. Students enrolled in both Fall and Spring semesters will be able to keep the computer until the completion of their academic year on May 15.

Gabriela Chapa | Bridge
Biology major Monica Molina tests out one of the University’s laptops similar to the loaner Dell models on Sept. 3 in the Zaffirini Student Success Center.

This program is first-come first-serve and the application is now open for students to apply. The Office of Outreach will review applications and devices will be distributed after the 20th day of classes on Sept. 18. The students are welcome to apply anytime during the semester. The program will be open to students as long as devices are available. The laptops will be equipped with most of the software students need, including Microsoft Office, and the Office of Informational Technology will be there for whatever issues students might have. The laptop model for this program will be the Dell 3410, which is compact and portable for students to easily carry it around campus or move around their homes.

Scheiby González Fisher, executive director of TAMIU Outreach and Pre-College Programs, said this initiative was a way to help students persist during these difficult times.

“This is an initiative that the University decided to pursue for the students,” Fisher said. “It is something that TAMIU decided [jt] wanted to do to help students, especially considering the situation we are dealing with, with technology issues. We know that there are students that don’t have either … [a] working device or don’t have devices period, so the University decided [it] wanted to go ahead and purchase this equipment. The equipment was purchased with TAMIU CARES funds. With CARES, at the end of the day, we are trying to help and give back to the students.”

Gabriela Chapa | Bridge
The University’s new loaner Dell laptops receive a software update on Sept. 3 as they are prepared for students in the OIT office in the Sue & Radcliffe Killam Library.

TAMIU CARES Act funds are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020. This more than $2 trillion economic relief package is intended to protect U.S. citizens from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website treasury.gov.

Interested students may submit their application by visiting the website go.tamiu.edu/laptop. Additional information may be learned from the Office of TAMIU Outreach and Pre-College Program at (956) 326- 2700 or email outreach@tamiu.edu.

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City issues quarantine orders, not applicable to TAMIU

City issues quarantine orders, not applicable to TAMIU

By David Gomez Jr.
Editor-in-chief

Published Monday, Sept. 7, 2020

Laredo Health Authority Dr. Victor Treviño laid down quarantine orders last week on two of TAMIU’s buildings only to later rescind those orders under state revocation.

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Treviño had papers served to Texas A&M International University for a quarantine of the Academic Innovation Center and the Kinesiology, Wellness, & Recreation Center.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Social distancing signs are placed all over campus, as seen Sept. 4.

“Under the orders issued by Governor [Greg] Abbott and other state law, the (Laredo health authority) does not have the legal power to issue quarantine orders to this University,” TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz wrote in an email on Sept. 2. “We have explained this to the LHA on multiple occasions, but they refused to recognize the limits on their authority and issued orders that are simply unlawful. As a result, a short while ago the Texas Department of State Health Services exercised its authority to revoke the orders issued by the LHA and eliminate the confusion unnecessarily created by the LHA.”

The City of Laredo powers provided to the health authority are simply to provide recommendations and guidance. This is not to be confused with the health director who runs operations and oversees public outreach and logistical response for the Laredo Health Department.

“This matter has been resolved,” TAMIU Director of Public Relations and Marketing Steve Harmon told The Bridge in an email. “As you may have heard, Dr. Treviño rescinded the quarantine notice, and we look forward to continuing to partner with the City of Laredo in our shared commitment to the health and safety of the University community and the community at large.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Facial covering disclaimers are placed at each campus entrance, as seen Sept. 4.

The Texas Department of State Health Services sided with TAMIU to keep its doors open since the University followed state guidelines.

The University tested 681 people, Arenaz wrote in an email on Sept. 2. Twelve came back positive. Only one attended class in person. As of Sept. 4, the TAMIU COVID-19 web page reported the following stats: TAMIU on-campus testing — Total tested: 782. Positive: 14. Inconclusive: 7. Estimated recovered: 2. Positivity rate: 1.79%.

In his Sept. 2 email, Arenaz pointed to TAMIU’s low positivity rate of then 1.76% as proof that the quarantine orders were unnecessary.

Comparatively, as of Sept. 7, the City of Laredo reports on its website testing 139,235 times. There are currently 668 active case results from a total of 12,094 confirmed cases. Of the positive cases, 121 were hospitalized, 11,053 estimated recovered and 252 deceased.

Social distancing, face coverings, washing and sanitizing frequently are some of the tools and routines being used to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Harmon continued in the email, “We thank our TAMIU community for their partnership in this … observe all possible preventive actions. Remain diligent every day.” He added, “This disease plays no favorites, but these practices have been proven to minimize the spread of the virus.”

Harmon provided a list of the different measures staff have taken, such as free COVID-19 testing, campuswide cleaning, enhanced HVAC filtering, socially distanced classrooms and meeting spaces, along with utilizing the help of public health and nursing faculty.

As much as these preventive measures are practiced, many students expressed their opinions and concerns of Arenaz’s and the University’s handling of the quarantine notice by the city on the unofficial TAMIU Student Network page on Facebook.

Among the comments, worries of having a science lab class during these times is a risk some students felt unnecessary.

“I understand where they’re coming from, but they must understand that it is not my decision to have them come into lab,” faculty adjunct Chris Rosales said. “They must have patience with us instructors as we are learning and going through this together.”

To be certain, not all of the social media posts are written from a well-informed status.

“When actions are debated via social media it is most often without the benefit of the facts of the matter,” Harmon told The Bridge in an email. “Soon, one person’s opinion becomes the next person’s fact and a flawed narrative is built.”

Harmon also noted Arenaz’s dedication and commitment to making the semester work are his highest priorities. The president earned a doctorate in microbiology.

“Every day, he works with our partners, the city, system, state and federal, to make sure that this campus is as safe as humanly possible,” Harmon continued in the email. “His commitment is total.”

Harmon concluded, “Like any entity here or around the globe, it is unrealistic to expect the University will have zero incidences. What all can be assured of is that the University will always do its very best to reduce the likelihood of incidence.”

This is not the first time Treviño had a disagreement over pandemic policies regarding education. On July 9, he signed an order for local elementary and secondary schools to conduct classes virtually. In late July, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a guidance letter stating that local health authorities did not have the power to issue sweeping school closures to minimize infection rates.

“I think [Paxton] mentioned I can’t close the school due to prevention of illness. But this is not prevention, this is already an outbreak in the whole city. This has nothing to do with prevention,” he told The Laredo Morning Times regarding that earlier disagreement.

His contract with the City of Laredo, which began May 1, lasts through April 30, 2022.

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OPINION: Internships, more hurt by COVID-19

OPINION: Internships, more hurt by COVID-19

By Tomas Cruz
Bridge Marketing Director
Published Monday, May 11, 2020

The Spring 2020 semester rapidly became one of the toughest semesters for many students’ academic journey at TAMIU. The coronavirus pandemic impacted not only our university, but the rest of the world.

As a Texas A&M International University senior, I faced many bumps on the road to finish my degree. This spring semester I was interning at a marketing/advertising agency for my COMM 4350 Internship course.

Due to the COVID-19 shutdown, many interns faced issues with internship locations closing and not being able to complete their hours. While some of us were able to work remotely, many others were unfortunately not able to return to their internship because numerous businesses temporarily closed. This prevented students from trying to put their academic skills into the work environment face-to-face and frightened those of us seniors looking at the job market after graduation. 

As a former student employee of the A.R. Sanchez School of Business Dean’s office, it was unfortunate I was not able to physically be there at work my last days. I would like to recognize the entire college for allowing me to work all four years of my academic journey, everyone was very nice and helpful to one another. I would also like to recognize the Center for the Study of Western Hemispheric Trade for allowing me to photograph their speaker series events and conferences.

Like many employees once the lock-down began, I had to work remotely from home and finish all my tasks from work, school and my internship. Even The Bridge student newspaper transitioned into more of an online publication. While it was a new and difficult situation for many, we are finally here at the end of the semester. I can officially say I received my bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in marketing. Although, it does not feel like it yet. Sadly, every graduate was supposed to walk across the stage this May, but commencement was postponed until August.

The cancellation of everything saddens most individuals. Commencement, internships, jobs, traveling and more, suffered cancellations due to this pandemic. However, life must go on and everyone should think positive. Many people’s lives are at risk right now and the best we can do is be glad we are alive and remain safe. Although we weren’t able to walk the stage this May, we will hopefully walk in August. For now, my only wish is for all TAMIU and everyone in this world to get through these tough times taking precautions and staying safe. 

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Spring graduation falls shy of fall semester

Spring graduation falls shy of fall semester

By David Gomez Jr.
Editor-in-chief
Published Monday, May 11, 2020 

This spring’s graduation occurs at the beginning of the fall semester on Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Sames Auto Arena, due to the pandemic.

On April 17, Texas A&M International University President Pablo Arenaz, appeared in a video in full regalia, in front of the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts organ, speaking to the 50th graduating class in TAMIU history. He said the graduation ceremony, along with summer commencement exercises, would be postponed until mid-August before the start of the fall semester because of the coronavirus pandemic affecting day-to-day routines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on life as we know it,” Arenaz told viewers of the video. “… The senior class of 2020, you have seen your last semester delivered online, and the traditions and celebrations that have always framed the senior year experience either canceled or postponed.”

Soon after saying so, Arenaz offered some good news that the postponed ceremony would still be held at the Sames Auto Arena, as so for the past four years.

“For we are TAMIU together, always,” Arenaz added.

Then around May 7, Arenaz spoke again in another video. This time in a full suit and tie, inside the Great Hall on the third floor of the Sue & Radcliffe Killam Library.

He brought up again the bittersweetness of graduation from the presentation of the flags representing various students’ countries, the student respondent speech’s heartfelt words and the roaring cannons of confetti that spray on the graduates.

Though, his new message was directly to the point–conferring of the students’ degrees.

“So by the authority vested in me, by the Chancellor, and by the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System, acting under the enabling legislation establishing this University, I hereby confer upon each of you the degree to which you are entitled with all its rights, privileges and responsibilities,” Arenaz said, concluding with “Congratulations!”

Arenaz then went on to say, “You have a bright future ahead of you. You have been prepared by outstanding faculty to enter the workforce, graduate or professional school …”

This message of good will was sent to all of the graduating class of 2020, but when unemployment currently resides at more than 20 percent due to the pandemic, Arenaz’s message falls on the fearful ears of job seekers.

“It … sucks,” former editor-in-chief of The Bridge and fall 2019 TAMIU graduate Matthew Balderas said about the current job market.

“I had one official job offer from a TV company and made it to second-round interviews with the Houston Astros and had just secured an interview with the Houston Dynamo right before they decided to suspend the sports season,” Balderas said.

“Unfortunately, the job offer and interviews fell through but I’m hoping once this is all over, I can backpack up where I left off, if at all possible.”

For some, Arenaz’s message of “graduate or professional school” might feel like a safer route.

“For now, I have entered into a master’s program with TAMIU for my MBA [with a] concentration of international business for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester,” Balderas said.

As of now, with businesses opening throughout Texas, and across the nation, no one knows what summer has in store.

“Our commitment on this is clear, but I must caution that we will not proceed should public health conditions force us to revisit the plan,” Arenaz said, regarding the rescheduled commencement.

“Class of 2020, I look forward to handing you your diplomas.”

For the latest updates, visit the dedicated commencement website at www.tamiu.edu/commencment/

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$4.75 million TAMIU CARES Program grants emergency funds to students

$4.75 million TAMIU CARES Program grants emergency funds to students

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published Monday, May 4, 2020

On April 24, TAMIU announced it will give emergency grants to students thanks to the TAMIU CARES Program. These funds could begin disbursing to applicants as early as May 8.

As one of the many universities which received this emergency grant from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act approved by the Department of Education, Texas A&M International University was awarded $9 million. This amount was based on the number of students enrolled who qualify for the Pell Grant and those who do not. According to the CARES Act, the money would be split in half so $4.75 million will go to the university and the other half provided to students in the form of grants, refunds, loan forgiveness or campus-based waivers.

TAMIU President Pablo Arenaz said this emergency aid would help students directly affected by COVID-19.

“Thousands of TAMIU students and their families have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Arenaz began in an email sent to students, faculty and staff. “ Some students may even be questioning their ability to continue their degree dream. The availability of this assistance will be a welcome relief and we are thankful to our congressional delegation for their leadership on this.”

Those interested may look up additional information at https://www.tamiu.edu/cares/.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge Photo Illustration
A TAMIU student reviews the TAMIU CARES Emergency Funds website for the spring semester.

Because of this aid, the University set up the TAMIU CARES Emergency Fund. The money would go directly into the form of emergency grants distributed during the spring, summer and fall semesters for 2020. In order to access these grants, students must apply through an online application. TAMIU requested students apply through this application with supporting documentation of unforeseen hardships due to COVID-19, which include: food insecurity, urgent medical expenses, utility bills, school expenses, and on-campus and off-campus housing. Other requirements may apply.

In addition, students must have a FAFSA file with TAMIU or be eligible for Title IV student assistance.  TAMIU Finance Director Laura Elizondo said TAMIU has 5,760 students who currently meet Title IV eligibility and can qualify for this grant. However, some students have not started or completed their FAFSA, so that number might increase or change. As of last week, about 1,478 students applied but numbers continue to increase.

Elizondo said she and the committee in charge of the TAMIU CARES Program are looking closely at the applications and said all details are important in determining whether a student is eligible for the grant. She said some applications show students focused on their needs for the spring semester, while others did not.

“There’s a lot of students who are submitting, ‘I need help in the summer for tuition,, well this is not the summer right now,” she said. “Anybody who’s submitting right now for applications for summer or next fall they will close up the application and let the students know at this time we’re not processing summer applications. You need to wait and come back and apply later in May. Right now, we have to concentrate and pay out our spring needs.”

She said they are focusing on students who expressed urgent need of funds.

“If you do not own a computer and now you have to work from home and you use a credit card to purchase a computer, that’s a perfect item that we can help reimburse you for,” Elizondo said. “If you do not have internet at home and now you have to add it, that is a perfect item that we can help you pay for. So some students are giving us a lot of [information] while others are not saying much.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge Photo Illustration
A TAMIU student reviews the TAMIU CARES Emergency Funds website for the spring semester.

Moreover, she said if a student does not submit enough documentation for a claim, the committee will contact that student with an email or mobile phone number on file and allow them 48 hours to resubmit any photos of bills or proof to tamiucares@tamiu.edu and someone there will upload the documents for them onto their application.

Elizondo said the first round of funds will go out at the end of the week, possibly May 8 and onward.

For those who do not receive any money for the spring semester, they can still apply for the summer and fall if they are enrolled for classes. The summer application opens up on May 18 and August 17 for fall. Elizondo said summer applications will process through the end of May, June, July and even August because of the different summer sessions students might be enrolled.

She also said it is extremely important for students to apply because this money goes directly to them.

“Students don’t have to confirm what they use [the money] for,” Elizondo said. “If the student said they need it because x,y, z and then they get the money and something else happens and they need it for something else, that is their prerogative. They decide. They don’t have to come back and give us any type of proof of what they used it for.”

A BankMobile account is recommended in order to receive the funds. She encourages people to be patient and know that the University is doing everything it can to help the students during this time.

In addition, students can still apply for other grants like the Student Emergency Grant, the Texas A&M University System Emergency Regent’s Grant and the Lamar Bruni Vergara Emergency Fund—all with their own eligibility requirements.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Pandemic life

PHOTO STORY: Pandemic life

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
and
Alejandro Hernandez
Bridge Staff Writer
Published Monday, May 4, 2020

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QUARANTINE CORNER: Dealing with the pandemic – Part 1

TAMIU together: dealing with the pandemic

By Angela K. Carranza
Bridge Staff Writer
Published Monday, April 20, 2020

[Editor’s note: The following is the first installment in a series of articles about different Texas A&M International University students, faculty and staff who are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope their stories can be as inspiring to you as we found them to be.]

Daniel Rodriguez
TAMIU senior

During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals discover how to keep themselves busy in many different ways. For example, some take up different hobbies: cooking, reading, gaming, etc. But for Texas A&M International University senior Daniel Rodriguez, a variety of hobbies keep him occupied throughout the day.

“I have been living alone for quite some time now, which has forced me to cook and be more independent,” Rodriguez said. “I have also gained some hobbies back, such as: gardening, playing Sudoku and playing video games.”

On another note, Rodriguez said life changed when his self-quarantine began.

“In this time of quarantine, I have been thinking about how we often live life in a rush,” he reflected. “This realization made me take more time with things at a slower pace.” 

Submitted photos | courtesy Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez cooks at home during his self-quarantine.

Ruben Reyes
TAMIU sophomore

Quarantine impacts students in many different ways. Some students see it as an advantage to finally beginning the things they had no time for previously, but others find it difficult adjusting to this period of self-isolation. At home, find many distractions.

“My entire routine has completely changed,” sophomore Ruben Reyes said. “It is really hard getting adjusted to this, being at home, 24/7. I was used to going to school at a certain time, going to work at a certain time, and now that we’re stuck at home there’s really nothing I can do.”

In contrast, there are also many things Reyes has been able to dedicate his time to.

“I’ve pretty much been gaming and spending time with my friends online,” he said. “During these last few weeks, I’ve been virtually meeting online with my friends on Discord. We just hang out as if we were hanging out in person, except through Discord.”

Reyes also runs a gaming YouTube account where he uploads gaming videos.

“Lately, I have been able to do more content creation, mainly because I am sponsored by a gaming organization through YouTube, and I did not get the chance to do this as much during the semester because of classes,” he said.

Interested persons may view his YouTube channel: rubenkings.

submitted photo | courtesy Ruben Reyes

Maria Hernandez
TAMIU student

During this self-imposed quarantine, many individuals adapt quite differently.

“Quarantine has mainly impacted me with my schoolwork,” Texas A&M International University student Maria Hernandez said. “It is harder to concentrate because my family is with me all the time. And there are not many places that I could go to do my schoolwork.”

For some, the forced introverted life might seem repetitive.

“Well, basically, [I’m] just doing house chores, homework, watching TV—the minimum stuff,” Hernandez said. “I have also been getting into doing arts and crafts with polymer clay. I usually just decorate things, like I have recently been decorating plant pots.”

She said she is also quite fond of self-quarantine.

“I get to be with my family and live with them,” Hernandez said. “I don’t live with my family, but in this quarantine I have been spending my time with my family.”

submitted photos | courtesy Maria Hernandez

Alyssa Veronica
TAMIU junior

This self-quarantine life has many different impacts on Texas A&M International University students. For some it turns harsh, yet for others beneficial.

“I would actually say that quarantine has benefited me,” TAMIU junior Alyssa Veronica said. “I finally have time to do things around the house. Now I can actually cook. I have been cooking all my meals which is great because I love to cook. And before I hadn’t had the chance to do so because of school.”

“I’m very into nutrition, I like to watch what I eat and find different healthy options that are easy to make,” Veronica said.

In addition, she finds some things too restrictive.

“I think the least favorite thing about quarantine would have to be the restrictions, in terms of going out,” she said. “Like, you can’t go to a friend’s house. You can’t hang out with anybody.

“But my most favorite part about quarantine is that I don’t really have to wake up for class, get ready and find parking. So I would say my favorite part is not having to worry about parking.”

Many students posted about parking issues online in the TAMIU Student Network page on Facebook prior to the impact of COVID-19. 

Veronica turned a not-so-happy situation to her advantage as now finds time to do things she really loves. Despite these “difficult times,” as many people are calling them, some find it important to always look for the bright side in every situation. 

submitted photo | courtesy Alyssa Veronica
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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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New additions made to the College of Nursing

New additions made to the College of Nursing

By Amber Davila
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

The College of Nursing and Health Sciences underwent several changes; it continues adding to its variety of degrees.

Now the college offers different types of majors and certifications. Texas A&M International University students can major in more than nursing alone.

“The College of Nursing now has communication disorder, kinesiology non-certification, nursing and starting this fall, we will have public health,” academic adviser Anna Buentello said. “So, that’s a new program upcoming [this] fall semester. This is for the students that are not admitted to the nursing program. We’re gonna recommend that they do the public health program because it has similar requirements with a lower GPA.”

In the nursing program alone there were minor changes, including one affecting the entrance exam.

“In the nursing program itself, nothing has changed besides requiring a 75 or better on every subject in the HESI,” Buentello said.

The College of Nursing expansion includes adding another staff member to its ranks for new programs.

“Felipe Rodriguez is our new academic success coach for the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. He is part of our department since last semester in late November,” Buentello said.

With the additional staff member, students should get better assistance in selecting courses, programs and degrees within the college.

“I will be advising the health sciences, which are public health, kinesiology and communication disorders,” Rodriguez said.

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Coronavirus: ‘It’s a new one and we’ve never seen it’

Coronavirus

‘It’s a new one and we’ve never seen it’

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published March 30, 2020

New-year goal setting and good cheer quickly disappeared as the latest health scare puts the world on notice—the coronavirus.

On the last day of December 2019, the Chinese government informed the World Health Organization of an epidemic of flu-like cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, home to more than 11 million residents. People became ill and it began to spread, increasing the number infected. Officials believed the disease to be part of the coronavirus family.

According to WHO, coronavirus is a “family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe dis-eases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).” Officials ruled out both types of betacoronavirus, leaving many to wonder what type of new disease occurred.

On Jan. 7, the virus was officially identified as SARS-CoV-2, which results in the new disease known as COVID-19.

Hector F. Gonzalez, director of the City of Laredo Health Department explains, “[SARS-CoV-2] is new. It’s part of the coronavirus family but it’s a new one and we’ve never seen it. It’s a new strain. It started in China and remains mainly in China. Of the 75,000 cases confirmed to date, 74,000 are in China and 73,000 of those are in the province of Wen.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Doctors Hospital Emergency Room Saunders attends sick patients during flu season on Feb. 20 in Laredo.

By March 13, The New York Times reported confirmed cases in China reached more than 80,900 infected. The world total reached 143,700 sickened by March 13.

With the virus finally identified, researchers still haven’t found a cure, leaving those infected with few options.

Professor Addo-Mensah, who teaches medicinal chemistry at Texas A&M International University, highlighted the complications of finding a cure in due time.

“Companies or scientists in six months or so will come up with medication or vaccinations, but six months is too long. In terms of life without being lost every day, six months is too much,” Addo-Mensah said.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
A coronavirus prevention warning on display March 6 inside a restroom in Pellegrino Hall.

As of mid-February the disease spread to more than 27 countries, resulting in 2,100 deaths from complications of the virus. That death toll reached 5,397, including 2,217 outside of main-land China, by March 13, according to The New York Times. At least 122 countries reported cases by March 13.

Although halfway around the world, the disease known as COVID-19 steadily crept into the United States. The number of confirmed U.S. cases remained around 200 or fewer until early March. By March 13, though, The New York Times reports more than 2,100 U.S. cases. As of March 11, WHO declared the coronavirus as a pandemic, or a global outbreak of a disease. Previously, it was classified as an epidemic.

U.S. citizens who traveled across and around China started to test positive for the disease, thus bringing the virus closer to home as they start to get quarantined in the states.

San Antonio became one of the 15 U.S. locations to quarantine infected.

While quarantined, patients get their vital signs and temperature checked about two to three times a day by medical staff in San Antonio. As medical professionals look after these quarantine patients, some residents are concerned about going near the hospitals.

Many in Texas hold mixed reactions to the evacuees returning home with the disease. Some fear they will contract the coronavirus, while others believe it is far from possible.

People online turned their confusion and frustration into memes and even hateful rants about the Chinese government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of March 13, warns against non-essential travel to the following countries: China (80,900 cases), Italy (17,600), Iran (11,300), South Korea (7,900), Spain (4,200), France (3,600), Germany (3,600) and Iceland (100).

Other countries with confirmed cases include: U.S. (2,100 cases), Japan (1,300—which includes 696 from a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama), U.K. (500), Singapore (200), Canada, Brazil, Israel and Australia (100), India (82), Egypt (80), Russia (45), Argentina (31), Algeria (26), South Africa (24), Mexico (12), New Zealand (5), Nigeria (2) and others with one case.

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