Hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues were placed around gates in Denver International Airport's terminal B. An employee at the airport tested positive for coronavirus, according to The Denver Post on March 11, sparking concern at a major hub as the outbreak disrupts domestic and international travel. (Jake Epstein/B&W Staff)

Coronavirus fears impact Lehigh, travel worldwide


This story serves as a summary of all coronavirus developments from last week.

March 13 at 3:30 p.m. EST: President Donald Trump announced in a nationally televised news conference that he is declaring a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

March 12 at 3:50 p.m. EST: All Lehigh classes will be held remotely for the rest of the semester, according to an email sent to the Lehigh community from President John Simon.

March 12 at 10:30 a.m. EST: In a response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Patriot League announced that all spring practices and competitions are canceled. This decision is consistent with the Ivy League’s decision to cancel all spring sports. 

March 12 at 8:45 a.m. EST: The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported that the first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus has hit the Lehigh Valley. The individual, who is from Northampton County, is hospitalized, the The Morning Call reported. The positive test brings the number of positive cases in Pennsylvania up to 19. 

Coronavirus fallout leaves global impact 

President Donald Trump addressed the nation to give an update on the spread of the coronavirus in a tense speech from the Oval Office at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11. One notable point of the speech was Trump’s announcement of a 30-day travel ban on flights inbound from European countries, with the exception of the United Kingdom. The ban goes into effect at midnight on Friday, March 13. United States citizens are exempt from the ban.

As of Wednesday, there have been 38 confirmed deaths due to coronavirus in the United States. Thirty deaths have been recorded in Washington and four in California. Deaths have also occurred in New Jersey, North Dakota and Florida, according to CBS News. Italy has seen the biggest outbreak outside of China, where the virus originated. There are over 12,000 cases of the coronavirus in Italy, causing over 800 deaths.

Over 4,300 people have died worldwide so far from the coronavirus. The vast majority of the 120,000 cases are mild, and almost half of those infected have recovered, CBS News reported. 

Global stocks have taken a beating as the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 9. Over 126,000 people have been infected in 110 countries as of March 12, according to a report by The Associated Press. 

On Thursday, March 12, Congress announced the closure of the Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings from the public until April 1. The White House also has suspended all tours.  

The National Basketball Association made the decision to suspend all games on March 11 until further notice after one player tested positive for the deadly virus. Earlier that day, the NCAA said it would restrict attendance at the upcoming men’s and women’s Division I tournament. 

The National Guard was called in to New Rochelle, New York, after an outbreak there. Over 100 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in one New Rochelle community, and hundreds more have been under a quarantine order. 

Major companies, like Twitter, have instructed their employees not to come to work. Google and Apple have made similar decisions.

Lehigh switches to online classes

The campus community received an email from President John Simon on March 11 informing the university that classes will be held online for two weeks starting March 16 due to the spread of the coronavirus. Students who live on-campus are allowed to return to campus to retrieve any belongings left over spring break but are required to vacate campus by 5 p.m. on March 16. Students who choose to retrieve belongings are not allowed to stay overnight. 

Students who reside off-campus are encouraged to return home. University services, like libraries and dining halls, will be extremely limited. Students who are unable to return home due to extreme circumstances can fill out a request to remain on campus here

The Brown and White is working to verify reports from students who claim they have been denied emergency funds from the university to support the costs of a flight home. 

There are no known or suspected cases of coronavirus on campus at this time, Simon said. Offices and departments will open as scheduled on March 16. 

Coronavirus fears force students home from abroad

The university sent an email to all students currently studying abroad in Europe, directing them to make arrangements as soon as possible to return home. Foreign nationals have until midnight on Friday, March 13, to return to the United States, after President Trump’s ban on inbound flights from Europe. 

The severity of the situation in Italy prompted students studying abroad there to come home after a Feb. 28 email from Katie Radande, Lehigh’s Study Abroad director. She cited the CDC and State Department travel advisories being raised to a level 3 “Avoid non-essential travel” for Italy.

All summer study abroad programs in China and South Korea have already been canceled. 

The CDC has issued guidelines and recommendations regarding the coronavirus, like washing your hands often, covering your sneezes and coughs and avoiding close contact with many other people. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Seek medical attention and distance yourself from others if you are experiencing these symptoms. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for further updates. 

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