Emporia State is taking no extra precautions this week following reports of a possible coronavirus case in Lawrence, Kan., university officials said.
“The director of Student Wellness receives (Kansas Department of Health and Environment) updates,” said Gwen Larson, director of marketing and media relations, Tuesday afternoon. “She is getting all of their alerts and all of their guidelines.”
Mary McDaniel Anschutz, director of student wellness, said during an interview on Monday that students need to be no more concerned about the coronavirus than they are the flu. Similar precautions should be taken, she said.
“We are way past any incubation time, so we have nothing to be concerned about with our students that are on campus,” McDaniel Anshutz said prior to the news of the Lawrence investigation. “Let’s make that clear.”
The KDHE and Lawrence- Douglas County Health Department are investigating the possibility of the coronavirus in Lawrence, according to a press release Tuesday from the department. The investigation is the result of a patient in Lawrence who sought medical attention at a local hospital after having respiratory issues.
“The patient is not severely ill and is currently in isolation at a hospital as a precaution,” the press release said. The Center for Disease Control is currently running tests to determine if it is the coronavirus. Results will be back in a few days.
One hundred and sixty-five cases are currently being reviewed in the U.S., and five cases have been confirmed as of yesterday, according to the CDC.
The patient in Lawrence recently visited Wuhan, China, the region where the coronavirus originated in late December. ESU does not have any students from the affected region in China, according to an email sent yesterday to campus by McDaniel Anshutz.
Symptoms of the coronavirus include respiratory issues, fever, cough and are similar to the flu. It takes about two days for symptoms of the virus to appear, and people infected are typically contagious for about two weeks, according to the CDC.
To put it into perspective, 8,200 people have died in the past year from the flu, according to the ABC News website.
Campus has had several confirmed cases of both influenza A and B, McDaniel Anshutz said in the email sent to campus yesterday.
“Please remember that we remain in the middle of influenza season, itself a respiratory virus with very similar symptoms as the novel coronavirus,” McDaniel Anshutz said. “The CDC says that flu activity most often peaks in the United States between December and February. It is not unusual to see people wear disposable masks as a precaution during flu season. We have, in fact, seen confirmed cases of both Influenza A and B on our campus and in the Emporia area.”
The coronavirus is believed to be the result of human exposure to infected animals in a seafood market in Wuhan, similar to the swine flu’s connection to pigs and ebola’s connection to bats.
“The U.S. has faced multiple pandemics before of varying degrees and severity,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, according to a transcript from a press briefing on the CDC’s website. “We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not.”
If you are not feeling well and are experiencing either coronavirus or flu symptoms, reach out to the student wellness center found on the first floor of Southeast Morse or go to Newman Regional Hospital, 1201 W 12th Ave.