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California Universities Prepare for Outbreaks as Coronavirus Spreads


California colleges and universities are taking precautionary measures to prevent outbreaks of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that’s spreading around the world and has now made its way into the golden state.

COVID-19, more commonly referred to as coronavirus is a virus that hails from the same family as the common cold and SARS, which garnered international attention when it began spreading in 2003. The novel coronavirus is capable of spreading from person to person and symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and other respiratory conditions. The virus is spread through droplets expelled when infected individuals cough or sneeze. 

In a statement on Wednesday, University of California President Janet Napolitano advised the UC community against unnecessary travel to Center for Disease Control Warning – Level 3 Travel Notice, which currently includes China and South Korea. Napolitano advised any UC community members currently in such a designated country, should leave the area immediately. 

“It is of utmost importance that all faculty, staff, and students traveling abroad…register their international travel with the UC International Travel Registry before their expected departure and ensure they update this information as changes occur” Napolitano said. “Registration is an important step in reducing the risks of traveling abroad while keeping the UC community safe.”

On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newson announced 33 people in California had tested positive for COVID-19 and the state is monitoring 8,400 people for the virus. The same day, the CDC announced a Solano County resident in Northern California was the first confirmed case of the virus with an unknown origin. 

“This is a new virus, and while we are still learning about it, there is a lot we already know. We have been anticipating the potential for such a case in the U.S.,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health. “That’s why California has been working closely with federal and local partners, including health care providers and hospitals, since the outbreak was first reported in China — and we are already responding.”

The individual is under the care of the UC Davis medical center, and UC Davis released a statement indicating that while nobody on the UC Davis main campus has yet tested positive for the virus, three “members of the campus community” are currently in isolation. 

The CDC is testing one of those individuals for COVID-19 off-campus and the other two are not showing symptoms and not considered contagious. UC Davis is also implementing daily disinfection practices in all student housing and dining areas.

Meanwhile, the Los Rios Community College District announced three students from Sacramento City College, American River College, and Cosumnes River College, who are medical professionals reported exposure to the virus during the course of their work.

The students did not return to their campuses after exposure and are currently on 14 day quarantine out of an “abundance of caution.” Sacramento County Public Health experts advised no immediate action and the district will continue the regular class and work schedules for the time being.

The CDC recommends regular handwashing with soap or hand sanitizer, avoiding close contact with sick individuals, touching of eyes, nose, and mouth, and using a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent the virus from spreading.  As of this writing, there are 84,170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,876 deaths with 36,874 reported recoveries.

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