Coronavirus Update - January 31, 2020 - from President Smith

January 31, 2020

The University’s leadership team continues to closely monitor escalating global developments regarding the Coronavirus.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it has classified Coronavirus as a global health emergency and the U.S. State Department elevated its China travel advisory to its highest-level warning, Level 4, which recommends a “Do Not Travel” to China due to the illness.

The Eastern Michigan University health and wellness team, under the direction of Dean of Students Ellen Gold, is involved in ongoing dialogue with state and local public health officials, primarily the Washtenaw County Health Department.

It is important to note that no suspected cases of Coronavirus have been reported on our campus or among any of our students, faculty or staff. No cases have been confirmed in Washtenaw County or in the state of Michigan.

Given the heightened warnings from the WHO and the State Department, we have taken important steps to ensure the safety and well being of our community:

  • Student programs with planned travel to China through the end of summer are being assessed, with the possibility of being redirected.
  • All university-related and university-sponsored travel to China is being suspended for the next two months and will be evaluated on a rolling basis to account for changing developments in the course of the emergency.

Our utmost priority is the health, safety and well being of our students, faculty and staff, as well as our neighbors in the greater Ypsilanti and Washtenaw communities. This priority will guide our actions in response to this health emergency in the days and weeks ahead.

The Washtenaw County Health Department also reminds us that Coronavirus is a travel-related illness, and not an illness associated with contact with Chinese or Asian community members. The Health Department states, “Let’s fight this public health concern with compassion and science, not fear and discrimination.”

The Washtenaw County Health Department has prepared background information and frequently asked questions to better inform the public about Coronavirus.

We will provide further updates as necessary.


James M. Smith, Ph.D.

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