Anxiety around the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to rise nationally and locally as more cases are confirmed in Oregon and surrounding states.

Pacific University has confirmed that a student from the Forest Grove campus was exposed to a patient with COVID-19 while working at the medical facility where the first diagnosis was made and has been asked to self-quarantine.

“The student is not showing any symptoms and is close to the conclusion of the quarantine period,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Sarah Phillips. The student is continuing to monitor their symptoms and, “[they are] in touch with their faculty and the university and is doing fine,” added Phillips. 

The university does have an official plan for responding to the outbreak of the virus. “We have protocols in place and we are developing new plans and protocols as the situation changes,” Phillips said. “The University will be sending regular email communication to faculty, students and staff and we will be updating [our] web page as well.” That webpage can be found at: https://www.pacificu.edu/coronavirus.

The CDC also has had strict testing criteria along with limited testing capacity which has restricted health officials from responding as aggressively as they wished, according to the New York Times. 

The custodial staff at Pacific is also doing their best to combat the spread of illness. “When there is a large illness issue, we’ll be going in and hitting spots called ‘touch points,’” said Custodial Manager Douglas Martin. “So, if there’s a major outbreak or something going on somewhere, there’s a good chance somebody will be wiping door handles, counters, light switches, and phones to try to make sure the affected areas are safer. The number one issue really in doing something like this is life safety.”

Meanwhile, Phillips affirmed that the university is capable of handling the issue. “I have been at Pacific for 25 years and throughout my time here, there have been a number of public health issues that have come up, whether that is SARS, H1N1, ZIKA or even just the seasonal flu,” said Phillips. “How the university responds will differ depending upon the sort of threat posed and what our best options are for keeping students, faculty and staff safe.”

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