Update: UVU moves online; what to know

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1:50pm Mar. 13-President Trump declared a national emergency to combat the spread of the coronavirus, freeing up resources and funding to combat the pandemic.

Utah announced three more cases Friday, all related to travel. Two of the new cases are in Summit County and are both out-of-state visitors, says the Summit County Health Department.

The third case is in Salt Lake County, with state epidemiologist Angela Dunn stating that the infection was also due to travel. There is still no confirmed community spread in Utah at this time.

3/12 UVU will move it’s classes to online starting Monday, March 23, after the close of Spring Break, following the lead of other institutions.

Instructors will notify their classes about the shift and expectations for the rest of the semester by Wednesday, March 18. In addition, all events, sports and gatherings by the university are canceled until further notice.

According to UVU, “To allow transition time, modified courses will resume no later than Wednesday, March 25.”

No decision has been made yet about commencement for the 2020 class.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced measures intended to slow the spread of the virus while emphasizing that there is still no community spread in Utah. These include:

  • A limitation of mass gatherings to under 100 people. This includes activities like church and concerts.
  • For the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, a limitation of gatherings to under 20 people.
  • Herbert pushed companies who are able to push all work to telework, or to work from home procedures.
  • Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says Utah has increased it’s testing capacity, including several drive-up locations to be announced.
  • Experts pushed those who are sick to use telehealth or to call their healthcare provider before going into a healthcare facility.

The University of Utah announced that they will move all classes online starting March 18, and will remain online until the end of the semester. Utah State University and Weber State will do the same. BYU will cancel classes through March 18, and then resume with remote classes in line with other universities as well.

COVID-19 and Utah

With an increasing number of cases worldwide and in the United States, COVID-19 has been officially named a pandemic by the World Health Organization. While it hasn’t spread into the general population of Utah or UVU as of yet, experts predict it will and are pushing people to take specific actions to mitigate the virus’s negative impact on communities.

It isn’t spreading in Utah yet, but likely will.

Utah has so far announced three cases of the coronavirus, not counting a Utah Jazz player who was diagnosed Wednesday night. Each became sick after interacting with someone else known to have the disease, not through community spread.

The best thing that students can do to prevent getting sick is to wash their hands thoroughly and avoid touching their faces. I would also encourage them to focus on healthy habits that will make their body and immune system stronger, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, sleeping 7-8 hours a night, and managing their stress.”

According to Sue Jackson, professor of epidemiology at UVU

The coronavirus is thought to be highly contagious, but not life-threatening for much of the population. Experts believe many cases are very mild and may show no symptoms at all. However, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems should take extra steps to protect their health.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency at the beginning of March in order to prepare for the coronavirus.

According to the press release, Herbert said, “Our number one focus is preparing for the arrival of novel coronavirus. Issuing this declaration now allows us to take additional proactive steps that will make a big difference in how effectively we can respond once we start seeing COVID-19 diagnoses in Utah.”

UVU has a plan.

UVU has been planning for the coronavirus to come to campus for several weeks now. According to Robin Ebmeyer, the director of UVU’s Emergency Management and Safety, students should be prepared, but not panicked.

Like many, Ebmeyer echoed calls to consciously wash hands more thoroughly and refrain from touching the face, especially eyes and mouth. Ebmeyer herself has started keeping tissues on hand for this purpose, noting how difficult it is to not touch her face.

Ebmeyer says the school has a COVID-19 task force that is discussing and monitoring the situation. Among other things, she says they have been testing pushing classes to Canvas in advance in case the school decides to stop in-person classes.

Above all, Ebmeyer stresses that UVU does have a robust planning process in place for whatever situation the coronavirus may cause. Students can monitor https://www.uvu.info/ for any changes in UVU’s situation, as well as UVU’s plan and conditions for when those changes will happen.

That’s why we have a group. We hope that the group will make good, prudent, measured decisions going forward and that not one freaked out human will be able to lead us down a road we really don’t need to go down.

Robin Ebmeyer, director of Emergency Management and Safety for UVU

Students should expect some level of disruption, both to their classes and outside lives. Sporting events, at UVU and elsewhere, have been canceled, as have major conferences and festivals. The LDS General Conference has been moved to a broadcast-only format, and annual events like South by Southwest and Coachella have been delayed or canceled. Travel is also going to be restricted in many countries.

Masks aren’t going to help you.

Many have taken to stockpiling resources such as masks and extra water in preparation for the virus. According to Ebmeyer and Jackson, this isn’t going to help.

Masks are typically used in outbreak situations by those already sick as a way of stopping an infected person from transmitting the disease to another.

In addition, when people rush to buy supplies like masks that they don’t need, it strains the supply of masks for those who do need them, like healthcare workers.

At this point in time, experts are recommending people prepare for a possible two-week self-quarantine, where they would stay in their homes. Things like shelf-stable foods and other goods are recommended.

Sources of information.

Staying aware of the latest information can be very important in fluid situations like an outbreak. This article listed several sources, but we’ll list them below for convenience.

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