Saturday, October 31, 2020

PSU prepares for potential COVID-19 spread upstate

With 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York, Plattsburgh State is preparing for the potential spread of the virus to reach Plattsburgh.

Next Monday, PSU staff, the Clinton County Health Department, members of the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital and other community members are meeting in the Cardinal Lounge to discuss possible scenarios and how each part of the community would be involved and react if the coronavirus reached Plattsburgh.

PSU’s preparation for the coronavirus and its possible spread to Plattsburgh began before the spring semester started, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Bryan Hartman said.

PSU President Alexander Enyedi sent an email to all students Wednesday that outlined how SUNY has responded to the coronavirus. Study abroad programs in China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea have been suspended across all SUNY schools.

Two PSU students have been affected by the suspension of the programs. Any student returning from the five countries will be quarantined for 14 days on a SUNY campus downstate, Enyedi’s email read.

With spring break approaching, students have also been advised to not travel abroad if they can avoid it.

Canceling spring break was considered by PSU, but Hartman said experts disagreed with the approach.

“We’re on this major thoroughfare from Montreal to New York City. There’s such travel back and forth,” Hartman said. “It’s going to come here whether we have spring break or we don’t have spring break.”

If students were to get infected or exhibit symptoms of the virus, PSU would contact the local health department for direction, Hartman said. 

PSU has a limited capacity to isolate or quarantine possibly infected students. To do either, the college would have to provide a student with a private room and access to a private bathroom. PSU has both within guest rooms in dorm buildings. There’s one guest room per dorm building, so only eight total on campus.

“If we get more than [eight cases], then we would be looking to the health department to help identify other spaces,” Hartman said.

If Plattsburgh gets enough coronavirus cases, Hartman said the worst case scenario would be sending students back home.

To be in the best possible position to help counter the spread of coronavirus, Hartman said it’ll take a group effort.

“This is a community thing. The campus can’t operate in a vacuum,” he said.

PSU has an online page where anyone can get updates on the coronavirus as well as prevention advice. Find it at plattsburgh.edu/coronavirus.

 

Email Fernando Alba at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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