The University of New Mexico will be on spring break until April 5, according to UNM President Garnett Stokes.
Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), Residence Life and Student Housing, La Posada Dining Hall and Zimmerman Library will remain open throughout the extended break, according to University officials.
Down south, New Mexico State University (NMSU) followed other campuses and extended spring break by a week to curb the spread of the disease while remaining open for those dependent on-campus services, which was announced on March 13. New Mexico Tech also extended their spring break until March 23.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency in response to three novel COVID-19 cases on March 11. By March 13, the governor confirmed 10 presumptive positive cases in the state.
As cases have tripled over the span of the three-day state of emergency, the governor mandated gatherings with over 100 participants to cease as the state attempts to contain the spread of the disease through at least the end of April, according to a press release.
On March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the outbreak. According to the president’s speech, $50 billion will specifically go to disease response efforts.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the new respiratory disease — which falls under the larger family of coronaviruses — impacts both older people and people with chronic underlying health conditions most severely. Fever, cough and shortness of breath accompany the disease and can take two to 14 days to appear after exposure, according to the CDC.
Of the approximate 140,000 cases worldwide, around 5,000 have been fatal — nearly 4% — according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center’s website. As referenced in UNM’s COVID-19 guidance memo, around 80% of those infected will only display minor symptoms and will not require extensive care.
The University advised students, staff and faculty to self-quarantine for the 14 day incubation period if they suspect they came in contact with the disease. Furthermore, the state recommends calling the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3543 for those exhibiting symptoms.
This outbreak comes amidst the bustle of midterms and spring break trips. According to a statement by the University, UNM “strongly encourages students to avoid spring break travel to areas with active community transmission of COVID-19” — especially to Level 2 and 3 CDC Travel Warning regions, such as Italy, Spain and South Korea. All University-related travel to these areas is on moratorium until May 15.
For those who still embark on solo trips, UNM recommends bringing a laptop and course materials to prepare for any changes in conditions. Although the University has not yet implemented online course continuation like their various sister cities, many faculty members have begun to make the transition themselves.
The University also urged community members to report their travel on a UNM database, which can be accessed here: http://www.unm.edu/coronavirus/
Course and Work Changes
The UNM Center for Digital Learning, in coordination with Academic Technologies, is building a template for transitioning to web-enhanced courses, hosting how-to webinars for faculty and working to make labs virtually accessible, as previously reported by the Daily Lobo.
Online eight week courses are scheduled to start on March 30. For non-online second eight week courses, students are advised to email instructors for details.
As for work schedules, the details differ by department. In a Campus Communications sent the evening of March 13, Stokes announced that beginning Tuesday, March 17, “(UNM will reduce) the services offered and the number of employees physically present on UNM campuses.”
The email said Monday, March 16 will be a typical workday wherein employees will be notified of changes to work schedules at the discretion of their worksite supervisor.
Additionally, only direct deposit will be available if the University is closed, according to UNM’s COVID-19 guidance document.
As of the publication of this article, the Associated Students of UNM’s agency Student Special Events (SSE) has announced the cancellation of much-anticipated events, among them Fiestas and Ali Siddiq’s stand-up performance. Funding from canceled events will revert into ASUNM’s general fund to be reallocated next semester.
Spring Storm, LoboTHON and Greek Life formals are also canceled, according to an email from the Office of Student Affairs. The email said ASUNM’s Southwest Film Center “might be over for the semester as well.”
The Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS), an interdisciplinary free tutoring service, will be going fully online.
Popejoy Hall, UNM’s premier live theatre, has also tentatively suspended operations until April 30. Popejoy will contact those who have already purchased tickets within the next two weeks with available options, according to UNM’s COVID-19 guidance document.
On March 13, the New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal issued an emergency rule that guarantees free COVID-19 testing and treatment regardless of insurance provider, according to a press release from the governor’s office. As for uninsured people, the governor called on the president to issue an emergency order to create a Special Enrollment Period for those eligible to obtain coverage.
In the event of increased hospitalizations, the state has 344 intensive care unit beds and can convert 3,000 hospital beds to care for infected patients if needed, as reported by New Mexico In Depth.
Before visiting a treatment center, officials have asked those with symptoms to call the DOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3543. For COVID-19 related food, childcare and supply assistance or otherwise, New Mexican’s can call 1-833-551-0518.
Back on campus, SHAC said March 11 they tested two people for the virus and are awaiting results. For those seeking treatment from SHAC, call 505-277-3136.
This is a developing story. The Daily Lobo will continue to cover the coronavirus' effect on UNM over the coming weeks.
Alyssa Martinez is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @amart4447