By DEBBIE HERRERA
The World Health Organization has officially declared COVID-19, commonly known as the Coronavirus, a Pandemic as of March 11. As of March 16, the United States has over 1,600 confirmed cases and 41 people have died according to the CDC.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has declared a State of Emergency as the state deals with the virus and the shorage testing kits. There are 33 confirmed cases in the state including one in Wilson County. President Trump declared a national emergency Friday, March 13.
In the latest email update from President Douglas Searcy on March 12, classes are being paused and all campus activities are being postponed until further notice, while several students are being tested for COVID-19. The pause will allow staff and students to switch to online classes which will be operational March 20 at 9 a.m. Several students have been tested for COVID-19 on campus and recently came out as negative according to an update on March 15.
At this time, students are allowed to leave campus to go home with family or friends, if they choose to stay on-campus, students must contact their RAs. Staff is aware that if students want to move out for the semester they can and would need to contact their RAs as to how to do that. Barton will be updating the students, staff, and faculty on the virus and how to protect themselves.
These tips include: washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom, etc.; stay home if feeling sick or are sick, avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth; and to clean and disinfect the frequently touched objects and areas.
The school has created a Coronavirus Task Force that has been meeting regularly and Jennifer High, Executive Director of Student Health Services / Coordinator of Health Promotion and Education at Barton College, leads this task force.
The symptoms of the virus are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If students, staff, and faculty are sick, the health center advises that they stay in their residence hall or home and do not go to class, the Culinary Center, or other spaces on campus.
“I appreciate the understanding and flexibility of everyone in our community during this difficult and rapidly changing time. I am especially grateful to the faculty, staff and administrators who are working tirelessly to not only continue campus operations but are also taking extra measures to safeguard our community and stay true to our mission. Stay connected to your Barton family, and remain strong in the values and spirit that our campus community represents,” said Searcy in an email on March 12.