CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa operations 'not immediately' impacted by local COVID-19 cases

'The University of Iowa is closely monitoring this development'

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top l
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph in Iowa City on Monday, Sep. 17, 2018. (The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Shortly after Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday revealed Iowa’s first three presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 — all in Johnson County — the Iowa City-based University of Iowa communicated to its campus that those cases “do not immediately impact” its operations.

“The University of Iowa is closely monitoring this development and will follow recommendations from (the Iowa Department of Public Health,)” according to a campus message. “The UI will continue to take proactive actions for the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, and visitors and remains fully prepared to diagnose and treat any potential patient who might be infected with COVID-19.”

Iowa State University in Ames on Sunday also alerted its campus but quickly added, “There are no reported cases of COVID-19 on Iowa State’s campus,” and that public health officials aren’t recommending additional special precautions beyond hand-washing and typical good hygiene.

University of Northern Iowa did not provide an update on its COVID-19 website over the weekend, but all three of Iowa’s public universities — with international populations and students studying abroad — have taken measures to curtail potential spread and illness.

They’ve canceled study abroad programming for the spring semester in heavily affected countries — like China, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. Additionally, UNI on Friday announced it’s canceling all summer study abroad programming — in that it doesn’t use outside vendors for its study abroad experiences like Iowa State and UI.

“So we incur great financial risk with our programs,” according to a UNI announcement Friday. “Additionally, students who need these courses to graduate incur academic risk if we cancel these programs at a late date.”

One day earlier, the Board of Regents announced it’s canceling all university-sponsored travel for students, faculty, and staff for the next 30 days — affecting, among others, hundreds about to embark on study abroad experiences over spring break.

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In response to the presumptive positive cases on Sunday, the University of Iowa said it will make any decision to change current operations — including student instruction — in conjunction with the state and county health departments, the governor, and the Board of Regents.

The campuses, in their communications, also urged students, faculty, and staff who have traveled to an area with widespread COVID-19 transmission and are experiencing symptoms — mainly fever, cough, and trouble breathing — to contact student health or a local health care provider, including the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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