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Campus reacts to rise of coronavirus here and abroad

Coronavirus is becoming a growing concern within the Colorado State University community as the disease spread continues. 

The first outbreak of coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Since then, there have been over 6,100 cases reported worldwide with 132 deaths in China, according to the World Health Organization.


There have been five reported cases domestically in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington, according to a media statement released by the Center for Disease Control.

There were eight individuals who traveled to China in a CSU capacity, according to a University statement. However, there have been no cases reported within the CSU community.

“CSU is in close communication with our Colorado and local departments of health and is connected to the latest developments as tracked through those offices and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the statement said. “We’ve been closely monitoring this and carefully implementing best practices since Jan. 14.”

It’s rumored that virus outbreak caused the Chinese New Year event cancellation, but CSU Public Safety and Risk Communications Manager Dell Rae Ciaravola denies these claims.

“Several of the individuals who were traveling with the performance group were not able to get their visas approved in time,” Ciaravola said. “Our information indicates the issue with the visas and the cancellation are completely unrelated to the virus outbreak.”

Coronavirus and the CSU community

Assistant Director of the Asian/Pacific American Cultural Center Carl Murray Olsen does not want the outbreak to further the isolation the international students and Asian American community feel on campus. 

“I think there’s a heightened racial stress that Asian Americans face in general around being perpetual foreigners,” Murray Olsen said. “I think the coronavirus stuff has reinvigorated this public attitude toward Asian Americans in general. That’s kind of the narrative that I am hoping to prevent on this campus in particular.”

Historically, there have been disease outbreaks attributed to specific races, as seen with the Ebola outbreak from 2014-16, according to Murray Olsen.

“Let’s not generalize all East Asian folks as diseased,” Murray Olsen said. “Because that’s a really, really common trope for like, extermination of a race basically. I really hope that campus recognizes the traumatic impact that can have if you react that way toward East Asians.”


What is coronavirus, and how does it spread?

The 2019 novel coronavirus is a part of the coronavirus family that causes illness ranging from the common cold to more severe illnesses, including Middle East respiratory syndrome and severe acute respiratory syndrome. 

2019-nCoV is a zoonotic respiratory illness, meaning transmission happens between animals and people. However, according to the CDC, there is a growing number of patients that have not been exposed to animal markets, indicating a person-to-person spread. 

“This newer strain — called a ‘novel’ strain — is causing a range of severity of illness in people from mild infections to severe and sometimes fatal infections that cause pneumonia,” according to the CSU safety website.

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough and difficulty breathing. In more severe cases, coronavirus can cause pneumonia, SARS, kidney failure and death.

Coronaviruses spread the way a typical flu virus would: through respiratory droplets produced by a person sneezing or coughing. Investigations are still ongoing to determine the transmissibility of 2019-nCoV.

The CSU Health Network is screening any individual with cold or flu symptoms based on the protocol given by the CDC, according to a University statement. In addition to the rapid screening, the Health Network has implemented environmental controls, asking all patients with a fever or respiratory illness to wash their hands regularly and wear a mask.

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms similar to that of 2019-nCoV, contact a health professional or the CSU Health Network.

Laura Studley can be reached at or on Twitter @laurastudley_.

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