Jacqueline Simon, Staff Writer
On March 13, 2020 Interim Chancellor and Provost, Kristin Sobolik took unprecedented action to suspend all in person classes for the remainder of the semester to contain COVID-19. Classes will be taught remotely until the end of the semester. The University of Missouri St. Louis is just one of many public and private universities across the country to take such action. The news comes on the heel of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a pandemic, Missouri Governor Mike Parson declaring a state of emergency and President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency. The president's and the governor's declarations will not only allow authorities to waive certain regulations that would hinder efforts to test and treat coronavirus patients, it will free up federal funding so that resources get to the communities much quicker.
Many faculty, staff, and students at UMSL were relieved that the university had taken proactive actions to lessen the risk of a campus outbreak. The risk of being exposed to COVID-19 is low, however as the virus expands the risks will rise. Individuals with chronic health conditions have a higher risk of death from the virus. The Center for Disease Control advises people to isolate themselves at home if they test positive for the virus. They also recommend that individuals wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their nose, eyes, and mouth, avoid others who may be ill, avoid social contact and large gatherings, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces as often as possible. If you experience difficult breathing or shortness of breath, coughing, and fever contact your doctor or a healthcare provider immediately.
Early today the House of Representatives passed an economic relief bill allocating billons of dollars for employees to receive paid sick leave, unemployment benefits, free COVID-19 testing and treatment for anyone experiencing symptoms, food stamps and other measures to help Americans during this crisis. Additionally, President Trump announced that interest will be waived on student loans for students impacted by the crisis. At the request of the Federal Communications Commissions broadband and wireless companies signed a pledge to “Keep Americans Connected.” The pledge will prevent disconnection of wireless, internet and home phone services for customers for 60 days. Internet and wireless companies will also waive late fees and open Wi-Fi hotspots to all Americans. Companies are offering free Wi-Fi and broadband services for households with college students and grades K-12 for 60 days. The offer is valid to households that aren’t subscribed to internet services.
At local levels of government, officials from most states have issued mandates preventing water companies from disconnecting water services to customers. Customers whose water services have already been disconnected will be reconnected immediately. Water is vital in combatting COVID-19 according to the CDC. Many officials are halting the eviction of residents during the crisis. Governments in China, Italy, and some parts of France have ordered self-quarantines for their entire populations. President Trump has ordered a travel ban to and from all European countries. A domestic travel ban is still being considered in order to contain the COVID-19 virus. All professional sports teams have suspended play. Two NBA players have tested positive for the coronavirus. Many events that require a large gathering of people have been cancelled. Six states--Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington--have requested the services of the National Guard in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
There have been 135,000 cases of the coronavirus globally with approximately 5,000 deaths. There have been 1,700 cases reported in the U.S. The number of newly diagnosed cases and deaths are expected to rise.