Coronavirus case affects LA County

The USC Department of Health sent out a memo Sunday informing students about recent developments regarding the coronavirus outbreaks. Despite the two cases confirmed in Los Angeles and Orange counties Sunday, there is no indication that the virus will affect the USC community, according to Chief Health Officer Dr. Sarah Van Orman. 

More than 2,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, with 56 deaths occurring in and near Wuhan, China. Five U.S. cases have been confirmed, including the two incidents in California as well as three in Seattle, Chicago and Arizona. The Arizona case involves a student at Arizona State University who did not live in university housing.

Van Orman said the University has been working closely with the Los Angeles Public Health Department to monitor developments closely. According to Sunday’s memo, there has been no evidence of person-to-person transmission in the California cases.

There is no quarantine in place for those returning from affected areas in China. Individuals can continue normal activities but are asked to monitor for flu-like symptoms. If experiencing symptoms, individuals are urged to seek immediate medical care. 

Although officials are not worried that the virus will spread, the University is ready to work with the L.A. County of Public Health should a community member contract the virus. 

“If it were a student that [was] affected we would … [make] sure that [they have] appropriate medical care,” Van Orman said. “[We would use] contact tracing, where we identify who might have had contact with that individual during the potentially infectious period and those people are put under monitoring … They wouldn’t be restricted or quarantined.” 

Van Orman also urged students to keep in mind that the situation in China is more serious than in the United States and to be aware of how the situation may affect students, staff and faculty members who may have family in the affected areas. 

“We know that there are many members of the Trojan [Family] from that area,” Van Orman said. “[We want] to remind everybody to offer support to people and that there are a lot of students who are very worried about their loved ones.”

According to the provost’s letter, influenza shots cannot be administered to treat the coronavirus. However, Van Orman said the odds of a member of the USC community acquiring the virus are low and urges students to instead shift concerns to the flu. 

“If I were to tell people to be worried about any communicable disease right now, it would be influenza,” Van Orman said. “The things that we’re recommending for influenza are also things that would protect against any other virus.”