NAU President Rita Cheng distributed an email to students, faculty and staff declaring that the potential spread of coronavirus is being closely monitored around NAU and Flagstaff. The email, which circulated Monday afternoon, came shortly after the first documented case of the virus in Arizona.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus exhibits an array of symptoms, many of which are associated with the common cold. For example, a fever, cough, sore throat or runny nose could all indicate the virus, as stated on the CDC’s website.
Although coronavirus originated in China and spread internationally, the sickness is uncommon. Only four states — Arizona, California, Washington and Illinois — have confirmed cases, also according to the CDC.
“People in Arizona are not considered to be at risk of infection if they have not recently traveled to Wuhan, China or been in close contact with someone who is under evaluation for a novel coronavirus infection,” Cheng’s email stated.
A medical professional at Banner Health — the largest health system in Phoenix — also confirmed that coronavirus will likely stay contained, particularly considering America’s developed infrastructure.
The employee, who chose to remain anonymous, preferred to remain unidentified while addressing this ongoing and serious topic. However, the source also shared experiences from working and studying medicine.
“This new virus has never been seen before and is very similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome,” the employee said. “Because of our access to advanced medicine, clean water, good food and appropriate hygiene systems, the virus poses little to no threat in America.”
Cheng’s email also explained that the university is working closely with Coconino County Health Department and Human Services. Although coronavirus has manifested in Maricopa County, there are no confirmed cases in Coconino County, as stated in the president’s email.
Mark Searle, executive vice president and university provost at ASU, also dispersed a similar email to the Tempe-based community. According to Searle’s email, the individual diagnosed with novel coronavirus is a student at ASU who lives separate from university housing. The student is not severely ill and is currently in isolation. Additionally, ASU and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health Administration are investigating any previous contacts between the isolated individual and other members of the community.
Although contagious, coronavirus and many other illnesses can be avoided through basic sanitation and health awareness. Sometimes, staying healthy is as simple as washing hands, the Banner Health employee said.
“The best way to avoid getting coronavirus, the flu or even a cold is simply washing your hands frequently, staying away from sick family members or friends, and remaining hydrated,” the employee said.
If new information becomes available, Cheng's email stated the university will provide separate updates. Furthermore, the CDC continues to monitor coronavirus, which include risk assessments and offer traveler guidelines as the virus progresses.