LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Cal State University Northridge President Dianne Harrison announced Wednesday, March 11, that 13 students who attended the AIPAC conference have agreed to “self-isolate for 14 days from the date of potential exposure,” although none of them are exhibiting any symptoms.
“CSUN has contacted each student to assist with these efforts and arrange for alternative learning options,’’ Harrison wrote in a message to the campus community.
CSUN officials also decided on Wednesday that — while there are no confirmed cases on campus — the university would temporarily halt all in person, face-to-face classroom instruction.
“To provide time for planning to make this significant shift, all in-person, face-to-face classes will be canceled Thursday, March 12 through Sunday, March 15,” officials said in a released statement.
“Again, beginning [Thursday], students will not report to campus for face-to-face instruction. Students engaged off campus in field placement or other activities for academic credit will be advised by their instructor of any adjustments. Faculty will receive further guidance from the Office of the Provost about how to transition to virtual learning and alternate modalities.”
The campus will remain open and operational, the statement said. Other than face-to-face instruction, all operations and activities will continue.
Following the week of spring break — March 16-22 — the university will have transitioned to any necessary virtual and alternate modalities of learning, and have them operational from March 23 through April 19, according to the statement.
The faculty would notify students of course adjustments prior to Monday, March 23, the statement said.
The reaction at CSUN and others like it will continue to accelerate now that the first local death due to the coronavirus in Los Angeles county was confirmed Wednesday by health officials.
The victim was described as a woman in her 60s who lives elsewhere but was visiting friends in the area. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the county Department of Public Health, said the woman who died had underlying health conditions and had traveled extensively over the past month, including a “long layover in South Korea.”
No other specifics about the woman were released, including an exact location of the hospital where she died.
The county health director also announced six more confirmed cases of the illness. Of the six additional confirmed cases, three were “household contacts” of a previously announced patient, one person recently traveled to France and came home ill, one person traveled to a religious conference in another state and one person has no known travel or exposure history — making that patient the county’s second instance of “community transmission” of the illness.
Concerns about the virus have prompted many universities in the Southland — including UCLA, USC, Chapman, Pepperdine and Cal State Long Beach — to cancel in-person classes in favor of online courses in hopes of limiting public gatherings.
The new cases bring to 24 the number of cases of coronavirus, or COVID —19, that have been reported and overseen by the county Department of Public Health. Three additional cases have been reported by the city of Long Beach, which operates its own health department, bringing the overall county total to 27.
Long lines of people determined to stock up on toilet paper, paper towels, cleansers and sanitizers are still visible at stores. Many of those items have sold out across the Southland.
County public health teams began visiting nursing home and long-term care facilities on Wednesday to ensure all steps are being taken to protect against the coronavirus.
Ferrer said the teams over the past week have been visiting interim housing facilities, including homeless shelters, to check their ability to respond to a possible case of the illness.
Those teams will now focus on the nursing and long-term care facilities, an effort she said is “really both making sure that they’re able to adequately enforce all of their infectious disease control protocols, but just as importantly, we’d like to help them move to changing some common practices that may happen at their residences.”
Those practices include large community events that may occur at nursing homes, “activities that involve large (numbers of) people getting together,” and allowing visitors to enter facilities without first being checked to see if they are free of illness, she said.
Before Wednesday, the most recent case confirmed by the county on Tuesday was a person who had returned from Iran and was taken to a medical facility directly from Los Angeles International Airport. Ferrer said that person may now be quarantined at home.
No other details about the patient were released.
Other patients being monitored by the county Department of Public Health include:
— eight people who were in a travel group to northern Italy;
— two contract employees who were conducting coronavirus medical screenings of arriving passengers at Los Angeles International Airport;
— two relatives of a person who lives outside the county and was also confirmed with the virus; and
— a person who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference in Washington, D.C.;
— a person with a known history of travel to Japan;
— a person who contracted the illness from an unknown source, becoming the county’s first case of “community transmission” of the disease; and
— a traveler from the area of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. That person, the county’s first patient, has since recovered.
The Long Beach cases are two men and one woman. City officials said the test results are preliminary until confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two of the patients had recently traveled internationally to an area of “community transmission,” while the other traveled domestically to such an area.
Ferrer again warned that residents should start to consider “limiting activities where you have a lot of exposure to the general public.”
“This is particularly important for pregnant women, for older adults and for people with serious chronic medical conditions,’’ she said. “The reason we’re talking about these three groups of people is they are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. It’s not that they’re necessarily at higher risk for getting sick, but if they were to get sick, unlike the vast majority of people who will probably experience mild or moderate illness, folks who are pregnant or older adults or who have chronic medical conditions may in fact experience more serious illness.”
The public is also advised to wash their hands “for at least 20 seconds” and avoid touching their faces, noses and mouths.
Ferrer noted that any travelers returning from Italy, South Korea, China or Iran are still being asked “to self-quarantine themselves for 14 days upon their return to the United States.’’
She also said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising that people not go on any cruises.
There have been 29 deaths from coronavirus in the United States, while more than 4,000 people have died worldwide.