Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati will suspend face-to-face classes for a full month beginning March 14, following the lead of Miami University and the Ohio State University in attempting to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on campus.
Seminars, lectures and discussion sessions will be moved online until April 13, according to a notice posted Tuesday on the university’s website. The dean may grant permission for some labs, studios and other practical lessons to meet in certain circumstances.
Resident and dining halls will remain open, but students can also choose to return home until face-to-face lessons resume.
Campus activities with over 150 attendees must be rescheduled, canceled or reconfigured to take place remotely.
Like other Ohio school systems, UC also suspended all international travel in an effort to protect students from the novel coronavirus. Anyone returning from a county with high rates of infection — China, Iran, Italy or South Korea — must be self-quarantined for 14 days after.
Domestic travel will be on an as-needed basis, according to UC.
Only three cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in Ohio, and none are in the Cincinnati area. All three patients are Cuyahoga County residents in their 50s, according to Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton.
However, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine strongly encouraged Ohio universities to switch to remote instruction in order to prevent the spread of the virus among the students and staff.
COVID-19 is twice as contagious as the flu, according to Acton. The people most at risk of serious complications and death are those middle-aged and older, but younger people can transmit it without developing a severe illness themselves.
Find coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail email@example.com
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.