Purchase Responds to Coronavirus Case in Westchester County

By Brian Saccone

A man in his 50s in Westchester County has tested positive for the novelty coronavirus and is currently hospitalized at the New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights. His 20-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter, wife and a neighbor were also confirmed positive for the virus and are currently isolated in their home.

WABC News reported that in the past few months, the man has traveled to Miami and Israel, but not to any country that has been heavily infected.

The Westchester case is the first “community spread” of the coronavirus in New York. According to ABC News, there are now eleven confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York and 105 cases confirmed in the United States.

“We are taking preventable actions right now, there are updates every day on the Purchase College Website,” said Adrienne Belluscio, the health service administrator. “Teaching during a campus closure could be a thing, if someone is confirmed with the virus, but only the governor will decide if it will happen.”

The Health Service Department is planning to do as much as they can to prevent students from getting respiratory disease which is a symptom of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus is an illness that develops in the respiratory system. It can easily be spread just like other illnesses like the flu and the common cold. It has similar symptoms such as runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, chest pain or fever. Symptoms could appear two to 14 days after exposure.

Some cases could turn deadly. CBS News reported that there have been over 3,200 deaths worldwide, and 11 people have died in the United States. None of these deaths have been from New York.

There is no treatment for the coronavirus at this point. According to WIVB, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to spend $40 million dollars in emergency funding for a vaccine, treatment, medicine and medical centers to treat coronavirus.

Because of the proximity of the virus, Purchase College is remaining vigilant.

Patricia Bice, vice president of student affairs, has been in contact with other SUNY schools, the Emergency Response Team and the Center of Disease Control (CDC) on preventing the future spread of the coronavirus.

“As of right now, we do not have any reported cases of the virus on campus and the immediate health risk to our campus community is considered low,” Bice said.

Bice recommended a few things that the CDC has been promoting and that has been stated in multiple emails to the student body:

- Everyone should wash their hands for 20 seconds

- Use soap or sanitizer

- Avoid touching face with dirty hands

- Avoid close contact with people that are sick

- Cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing

- Clean surfaces more frequently

- Stay home if sick.

The Emergency Response Team has met with Bice and Dayton Tucker, university police chief and talked about the importance of communications with the community to make sure students, parents and faculty are informed in some way about where Purchase College is standing right now with the coronavirus case in Westchester County.

“We’re starting discussions about if it increases and the guidance changes, there could be partial closing or cancellation of public events and about how to continue public classes if it becomes more severe,” Bice said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that based on a recommendation from the New York State Department of Health, SUNY and CUNY schools are making arrangements to bring students on study abroad back home.

“There are currently two Purchase students on SUNY study abroad programs,” said Ross Daly, interim dean of liberal arts and sciences at a faculty meeting. “One in South Korea, the other in Italy. They have been advised to come home. SUNY is arranging for flights home for those students and has also suspended international programs in five countries including South Korea, Italy, Japan, China and Iran.”

Cuomo also mentioned in a briefing that SUNY and CUNY students that have been abroad will be quarantined for 14 days in dormitory settings.

President Donald Trump has announced a measure with travel bans to Iran, China and other countries impacted by the virus as a result of the spread in the United States.

If anyone on campus feels the symptoms of the coronavirus, contact Health Services at (914) 251-6380 or visit a doctor to get tested. It’s also important to avoid traveling to countries that are most infected with the coronavirus. For more recent news, visit the Purchase College Website under Health Services and click “Health Alert: Novel Coronavirus.”

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Neither the student government nor any faculty or administrative person or board shall make a rule or regulation or take any action which abridges students’ freedom of speech, press or inquiry, as guaranteed Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. Students of the campus are guaranteed:

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  2. the right to learn in the spirit of free inquiry;

  3. the right to be informed of the purposes of all research in which they are expected or encouraged to participate either as subject or researcher;

  4. the right to freedom from censorship in campus newspapers and other media 

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