The University of Colorado Boulder has activated an emergency operations team in response to the continued spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The announcement comes the same day Gov. Jared Polis announced two presumptive cases in Colorado which are currently being tested by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Over 3,000 people have died from the virus globally, with nearly 100,000 confirmed cases. In the U.S., the death toll has risen to 12, with over 200 confirmed cases.
In a statement to university students, faculty and staff, CU Boulder Associate Vice Chancellor Dan Jones said while there are currently no known cases on campus, the governor’s announcement increases the likelihood of local instances.
“This week, two COVID-19 screenings of CU Boulder employees were conducted in accordance with the CDC higher education guidelines and in coordination with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment,” Jones said in a statement. “One of those tests came back negative. We expect results on the second test soon.”
Jones said CU Boulder has received questions on how potential new cases of the virus may impact university operations but said decisions depend on how many cases are confirmed locally, where the affected people live, what containment measures can be applied and what guidance the university receives from local, state and federal authorities.
“Our emergency operations plan includes methods of continuing operations as long as it is safe to do so,” Jones said. “With infectious diseases, our campus response measures depend on the type of disease and the outbreak’s impact on the health and welfare of everyone on campus. Based on the specific circumstances involved, our response measures will scale with the needs of our community.”
In January, the university suspended abroad programs in China and recently suspended programs in Japan, South Korea and Italy. It has cut nearly 200 CU students’ travel abroad programs short. CU will not allow any more international undergraduate student trips for the remainder of the spring semester without authorization from the campus provost, according to Jones. A decision on international travel for future terms, including in May, has yet to be decided.
Jones said the university has enhanced cleaning throughout campus with increased attention to commonly touched surfaces and advises community members to take increased health precautions such as regularly washing hands and avoiding people who may be sick.
Contact CU Independent Editor-in-Chief Robert Tann at firstname.lastname@example.org.