What Oregon’s state of emergency means for Linfield

As the coronavirus spreads, what will the rest of the school year look like?

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Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency as the number of known cases of the novel coronavirus in Oregon doubled on Sunday.

“[This is] to ensure that we are able to swiftly deploy the personnel and resources necessary to address coronavirus in Oregon,” Brown said when declaring a state of emergency.

Yesterday, the Oregon Health Authority announced Multnomah County’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19, which brings Oregon’s total to 15 cases.

Over the weekend, the seven new positive cases that were added to Oregon’s COVID-19 count, preempted Brown to call for a state of emergency. A novel virus is one that is new to humans.

By declaring a state of emergency, Brown said it allows the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management “all the resources at our state’s disposal to stem the spread of this disease.” 

The state of emergency will remain in effect for 60 days but can be extended as needed until the outbreak is contained, Brown told the Oregonian. 

The declaration will allow the Oregon Health Authority more freedom and flexibility to take specific actions to contain the outbreak. These actions include:

  • Create more COVID-19 testing sites are more regional hospitals
  • Bring in emergency volunteer healthcare professionals to add service, especially in rural communities.
  • Expanding telemedicine so patients can be screened, evaluated and treated by healthcare providers without exposing more people to the virus.

The state isn’t imposing any quarantine or social distancing rules during this new state of emergency. Instead, officials continue to focus on at-risk populations: older people and people with underlying medical conditions.

It is not recommended by officials for people who are not sick or at risk to isolate themselves.

What Oregon being in a state of emergency means for Linfield

Oregon Health Authorities have released guidelines to k-12 schools, colleges and universities to deal with the novel virus. 

As per the guidelines, the college has increased the number of hand sanitizing stations, disinfectant spray and paper towels available to classrooms, meeting rooms, residence halls and dining halls. 

The college will remain open Director of Student Health & Wellness Patricia Haddeland said in an email, even though the Chronicle of Higher Education found that 100 colleges and universities have already been closed due to COVID-19. Linfield faculty have been instructed to design ways for their course material to be taught online if necessary. 

For students that are feeling sick, with common cold or flu-like symptoms, the college recognizes that they might not have a physician’s note and that faculty will work with those individuals, Vice President of Academic Affairs Susan Agre-Kippenhan said in an email. 

In a campus-wide email, Linfield President Miles Davis said that Pioneer Hall could potentially be designated as a space for an isolation space in the event that a member of the Linfield Community test positive for the coronavirus. A food-delivery service is also a part of Linfield’s contingency plan.

Plans for spring break

Spring break is in a couple of weeks and students and a lot of students intend to travel. All Oregon schools have the same break. Because travel is so widespread at this time, the Oregon Health Authorities are in an oversight position.

Haddeland said the most at-risk population are 80-year-olds. She recommends that students avoid visiting their grandparents in senior living facilities over spring break, and to video call them instead. 

How coronavirus affects campus life

Haddeland said one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting infected is by practicing good hygiene: washing your hands, and covering your coughs and sneezes. Beyond that, it’s advised to stay six feet away from somebody who is sick. 

The virus is spread by close contact– people would need to be within six feet of each other to potentially catch the virus. It is a droplet borne infection transmission, which means if an infected person contaminated a solid surface and then a person comes along within two hours and touches it, they could become infected. 

There’s no way to know if the virus is already in McMinnville right now, Haddeland said, but what she does know is that there is nobody so sick with a respiratory illness that they meet criteria for testing. 

“Those who develop illness are going to develop something that looks like a cold,” Haddeland said about their plans on taking care of students who might be sick.

How the coronavirus affects athletics 

There are no plans at the moment to adjust any competitions, Garry Killgore, the athletic director, said. 

If Linfield chooses to suspend in-person classes, Killgore said that all athletic events and practices will still be held. 

If more than half of the schools in the Northwest Conference are in some form of quarantine and unable to compete then there is a chance conference championship games will not happen, but Killgore said he thinks it will all be fine. 

Athletic directors across the conference will work with each other to try to reschedule any competitions if a school becomes under quarantine. 

Host schools have been doing anything they can to help the visiting schools with providing sanitizing wipes when needed. Teams have also been implementing small measures to avoid direct contact with each other. In the lacrosse games over the weekend players clinked sticks rather than high-fiving after the competitions. 

The same as campus life good hygiene is being stressed across the HHPA. There are sterile liquid in spray bottles to help sanitize equipment in the weight and cardio room. 

More Information

Linfield has been monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak and has been updating the schools website with important information.

To learn more about Oregon’s efforts to respond to COVID-19 visit The Oregon Health Authority’s website.