By Cash Michaels –
Are they prepared to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Now that winter is just about over, many are preparing for the warm spring and summer months, and the traditional activities that come with them.
But literally, right now as you read this, the sponsors of many of those upcoming events are wondering if they’ll even happen at all, or if they do, how, all because of the ever-increasing threat of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.
In the black community, where every week people hug and greet each other at church or social/civic events, graduations are on the horizon both in secondary schools, HBCUs, and larger universities throughout May and June.
Tens of thousands of people, particularly families, will be coming to or through North Carolina, to take part.
What can, or is being done to safeguard against COVID-19 transmission in settings where joyous hugging, kissing, and vigorous handshaking are essential parts of the occasion? According to the U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is most commonly transmitted by close contact, person to person, via respiratory droplets (coughs, sneezes0 within six feet, or indirect contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.
A quick review of HBCU campus websites in North Carolina found St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, Central University in Durham, A&T University in Greensboro, Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, and Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, as the only HBCUs out of ten across the state to have COVID-19 advisories on their websites where they could be easily found.
Several of the schools have advised students coming back from international studies in China, Italy, and other foreign countries known to be fighting COVID-19 spread, to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return. All other students are advised to follow CDC guidelines in COVID-19 prevention.
And when it comes to those guidelines for large gatherings and events like graduations, the CDC has issued “interim guidance.”
“As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves, CDC strongly encourages event organizers and staff to prepare for the possibility of outbreaks in their communities. Creating an emergency plan for mass gatherings and large community events can help protect you and the health of your event participants and local community.”
The CDC guidance continues, “If possible, identify a space that can be used to isolate staff or participants who become ill at the event. Designate a space for staff and participants who may become sick and cannot leave the event immediately. Work with partners, such as local hospitals, to create a plan for treating staff and participants who do not live nearby. Include a plan for separating and caring for vulnerable populations.”
Go to www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html for more details.