Opinion: ASU has handled the new coronavirus outbreak well

ASU officials are doing the best they can to address the situation surrounding the virus

The new coronavirus hit ASU almost two weeks ago, and since then the University has been working diligently to address health concerns from students.

Originating from Wuhan, China, the virus has reached 337 total possible cases in the United States, with only 12 having been confirmed as of Friday. One confirmed case in the U.S. is here in Arizona.

Students' concerns became apparent following the distribution of a petition for the cancellation of classes, which now has more than 25,700 signatures. 

It has also become commonplace to see students taking extra precautions like wearing surgical masks while they are on campus.

Gerardo Gonzalez, a University spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that ASU is following health protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that it is "monitoring the coronavirus situation daily and working closely with federal, state and county health authorities."

Gonzalez also mentioned that there will be no consideration of canceling classes at this time, as the risk to the general public is believed to be low in Arizona.

The decision to not cancel classes is the right one. ASU students do not pay thousands of dollars in tuition and fees to have their learning canceled or postponed due to an illness that has a low risk to the student population.

“I don’t think (ASU has) done a good job at all," Sofya Pangburn, a senior majoring in global studies, said. "It would be nice to know exactly where that person had been. (ASU) should be providing face masks — even if they may not be effective — they provide that sense of security."

Even though Pangburn, herself, would have liked for classes to be canceled, she said she agreed in the decision to not cancel them across the board. She also expressed her concern for students with compromised immune systems who may have a higher risk of exposure.

On the Downtown Phoenix campus however, there were some differing opinions.

Kyle Hildebrand, a junior majoring in sports journalism, said, "In what (ASU) can do, they are doing a fine job; it hasn’t spread as far as I know.”

Despite complaints, I agree with the sentiments voiced by some of my peers: ASU has done a good job with informing students of the initial reported case of the new coronavirus and handling it within the community.

The University has advised students on best practices to instill in their everyday routines, promoted online resources and worked with other health officials and authorities on the matter.

Gonzalez reiterated that the best current method of prevention is washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and to follow any further measures listed on the ASU coronavirus homepage

He also mentioned that hand sanitizer was being provided free of charge in the Health Services office.

“The University has made masks available to students who are experiencing flu-like symptoms,"  Gonzalez wrote. "By donning the mask, students who are ill can help prevent the spread of viruses."

The concerns are reasonable. There is a risk, albeit small, that more may become sick. However, as officials and experts have stated, the risk to Arizona's general public is believed to be low, with only one confirmed case in the state.

Students are at ASU to attend class. The fear of infection alone should not be a reason to interrupt learning.


Reach the columnist at tjdonne3@asu.edu or follow @TimDonn73804728 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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