Local universities check on staff, students amid Coronavirus outbreak

Middle TN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – New numbers out Wednesday show the fast-spreading Coronavirus has now impacted just under 6,000 people, killing at least 132. There are still only five cases in the United States.

The U.S government is strongly encouraging Americans to reconsider travel to China.

The United States has also expanded the screening of travelers arriving from Wuhan to 20 ports of entry, from five, federal officials announced Tuesday.

All this, as 200 Americans returned Wednesday from the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak.

The deadly virus is prompting local colleges to send out statements to students and staff notifying them of the situation.

You’ll find all of their statements below:

Belmont University’s statement is as follows:

Belmont Faculty, Staff and Students,

In December 2019, the international health care community identified in Wuhan, China a new respiratory virus that has since been labeled 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Belmont University Health Services is following the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and works closely with local public health officials to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of all campus members. Belmont does not have any international students from Wuhan, nor do we have any students currently studying in China. At this time, there is no identified risk to the Belmont community.

Out of caution, all patients at Belmont Health Services with symptoms of cough and fever will be asked to wear a mask and provide information about any recent travel history. Influenza and similar viruses are most prevalent at this time of year. We would like to take this opportunity to remind the Belmont community of standard recommendations to prevent the spread of infections including regular hand washing and use of hand sanitizer and covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity and other features associated with 2019-nCoV, and investigations are ongoing. The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page at 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

We will continue to update the community as new information becomes available. In the meantime, be aware that the Belmont Health Services clinic (615-460-5506) is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon, and our professional staff is ready to assist you. The clinic is located on the first floor of McWhorter Hall. The Health Services website also lists other local clinics with additional hours of operation.

Middle Tennessee State University’s statement is as follows:


Officials from Student Health and from International Education continue to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and have checked the well-being of our students from China enrolled this semester.

We’ve also identified and reached out to students who have ties to the areas identified as most impacted by the coronavirus.  Our Medical Director, Dr. Eric Clark, has provided specific information to these students to assist them in understanding the symptoms and the guidance being published by international health agencies.  As of this morning, Jan. 28, no students have been identified who have traveled to one of the impacted areas within the past 14 days AND have the physical symptoms of the virus.  Both presence in the area and the presence of the physical symptoms must be present to indicate the need for further testing.  We will continue to carefully monitor at risk students until we pass the 14-day period.

Out of an abundance of caution, the University has canceled tonight’s scheduled concert in Wright Music Building featuring the Jinling Dragon ensemble in celebration of Chinese New Year. The cancellation includes a pre-concert reception in the Tom H. Jackson Building.

A Saturday, Feb. 8, concert featuring the Zhou Family Band has also been canceled.

Even though artists and staff involved with the events are in good health and have not visited or have come in contact with those from any infected areas, we are canceling these events to allay any possible concerns.

Statement from University of Tennessee:

UT has no reports of coronavirus cases. As a precaution, UT has suspended spring study abroad programs in China, affecting 21 students. Only one student was already in China, well away from the Wuhan area, and that student plans to return to the U.S. The UT Center for Global Engagement is in contact with all affected students and will work with them to make other arrangements to complete their academic work. No decision has been made on mini-term (in May) or summer semester programs to China. The UT Student Health Center, the Center for Global Engagement, and additional offices are closely monitoring developments.

Vanderbilt University states this on new information published Wednesday:

The CDC and the U.S. Department of State have raised their alert levels for travel to China. The CDC has raised its advisory to “Warning Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel.” The State Department’s advisory is now at “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” In light of the alert levels from the CDC and the U.S. State Department, student travel requests to the country will require additional review if the travel is intended as an official Vanderbilt sponsored activity – consistent with the university’s Study Away Risk Assessment Committee’s (SARAC)   policies and student international travel policy.
The university also recommends that faculty and staff reconsider non-essential travel to China in light of the new alert levels.

All members of the university community who are traveling are urged to register travel with the university in order to access global assistance through the Vanderbilt Incident Response for Travel (VIRT) team.

Lipscomb University released a statement to News 2:

We have students who have just left Nashville in the last few days for our four semester-long study abroad sites in Vienna, Austria; Costa Rica; London; and Florence, Italy. In fact, today our student groups left for Costa Rica and Florence, Italy. 

Rebecca Zanolini, director of global learning at Lipscomb University, and Kathy Hargis, associate vice president for risk management and compliance, have met with trip leaders to brief them on the virus and they will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action as needed. In addition, we have sent face masks with students in those locations as a precaution.

In addition, global learning students have been reminded to use proper hygiene, wash and sanitize their hands often and to use an abundance of caution when traveling abroad on public transportation. 

We also reached out to Tennessee State University. As of news time, we did not hear back.

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