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Over the spring break season, the coronavirus has continued to spread and immerse the world in fear and uncertainty. The current number of people that have been infected are just over 120,000, with over 4,000 deaths caused as a result, according to Johns Hopkins.
While many are recovering from COVID-19, there still remains an increasing paranoia behind this disease. With response from governments around the world being different and streamlined testing non-existent, many health organizations are unable to determine an accurate measure of how many people have contracted the virus.
On Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization has finally declared the coronavirus to be at pandemic proportions, a sentiment which many feel is a late call. A pandemic is the classification of a spreading disease that is prevalent in many countries across the world at once.
The WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had likely delayed calling this a viral pandemic to due fears of causing mass panic. I believe that if these organizations would have called this a viral pandemic earlier, more steps could have been taken to protect ourselves and the public from these concerns.
I am appalled by the U.S government’s lack of response to this virus. I have been seeing more news about President Donald Trump and American congress being more worried about creating economic bills and measures in progress to prevent the economy from sustaining losses during this virus than actually taking measures with the public to prevent further infection.
The lack of control that the U.S. government has over this situation has prompted more states, corporations and private institutions to take protective measures for their people. Many companies including those like Apple are offering paid sick leave to employees with symptoms of the virus.
Individual states and larger cities are opting to call for states of emergency to help prevent price-gouging and become more proactive in public health response. “While we do expect many more cases, we can limit the number of people who get seriously ill,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper during his state of emergency declaration address.
In states with a higher number of infections like New York and California, many universities are opting to shut down campuses and resume classes online until the virus is under control. Harvard, Columbia, UC Berkeley, the University of Florida and other universities are among some of those few.
As for UNCG, I have spoken to many members of faculty, and they all have told me the same thing: university officials are asking faculty if they have the capability to host online classes rather than face-to-face courses.
Per a mass UNCG email on March 11, face-to-face courses at UNCG will be suspended for one week starting on Monday, March 16th to convert course content and evaluate online options for courses. Starting on March 23, all courses that can be taught online at the university will be instead of face-to-face. The courses that cannot be converted will continue to meet in-person.
This is the same for 17 UNC system schools. Duke University has already made this transition as well.
As a student and concerned member of the public, I believe the best thing that can be done during this time is to maintain diligence with coursework, be adamant in proper handwashing, avoid large crowds and stay vigilant as to where one gets their sources, reports and updates about the coronavirus.
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