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Local colleges, universities suspend in-person classes over COVID-19

Posted at 6:29 PM, Mar 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 17:50:54-04

CINCINNATI — 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.

Although there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Greater Cincinnati region, local colleges and universities have opted to take no chances.

Miami University, Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati have all halted in-person lectures in favor of online instruction for at least the next four weeks.

"There's a difference between preparation and panic," said Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, with the University of Cincinnati's division of infectious diseases. "I think we need to prepare and we need to do the right things."

He said he believes the current response by state and local leaders and, in turn, the response by schools and universities, is appropriate amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it's all about making sure the region has the ability to test for COVID-19 and the capacity to treat people who might contract the virus. Cancelling large, in-person classes is one way experts, and Governor Mike DeWine, think will help limit the virus' ability to spread person-to-person.

UC, Xavier and Miami are not yet opting to close dorms or other campus buildings, however. This is something UC student Debi Kaur said she's grateful for, because many of her friends on campus who are not from the Cincinnati area may struggle to go back home.

"Some people have to fly home, which is really scary," said Kaur. "I know there's people here from Florida. People here from across the country. It's sad. And there's people who don't even have any plance to go.

Fichtenbaum said it's important to remember that most people who get COVID-19 can only present mild symptoms, which is why it's important to stay home when feeling sick at all, to prevent spreading the disease to the elderly or other vulnerable populations.

"Trying to make sure that we limit contact," said Fichtenbaum. "That's why they made the decision to make classes virtual...And also to reassure people that the sky is not falling. We're going to survive this."

Here is a list of universities and colleges in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio that have currently suspended classes:

Indiana:

Indiana University
University of Notre Dame
Purdue University

Kentucky:

Northern Kentucky University
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville

Ohio:

Bowling Green State University
University of Cincinnati
Kent State University
Miami University
Ohio University
Ohio State University
University of Toledo
Wright State University
Xavier University
Youngstown State University

Find coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

Indiana

  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov
  • 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.