College bans travel to five countries amid COVID-19 fears

John Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker reports 21 deaths in United States

By Jacob Seitz, Staff Writer

The college announced Sunday that it will eliminate college-funded travel to five countries in response to the rapidly spreading COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus. 

An email Sunday afternoon from President M. Lee Pelton said college-funded travel to Italy, China, South Korea, Iran, and Japan—all countries with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—will no longer take place this academic year. The CDC categorizes a Level 3 Travel Notice as “Widespread Community Transmission” of a virus and advises against non-essential travel to countries with a Level 3 Notice.

The email said any community member that visits a country with a Level 3 Travel notice will be required by the college to complete 14 days of self-isolation at their permanent address, as recommended by the CDC. Community members must be symptom-free before returning to campus. There are currently 13 cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, though the college says there are currently no cases at Emerson.

Pelton also advised against nonessential domestic travel until at least commencement but said the college would continue to fund travel in the U.S.

As of Sunday afternoon, nearly 110,000 people in over 70 countries have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 3,800 have died including 21 in the United States, according to a COVID-19 tracker created by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University.

A separate email yesterday, from the Office of Campus Life, asked students to practice “self-monitoring” if they traveled via public transportation, air, or train travel over spring break.

The email said that “self-monitoring” involves twice-daily temperature readings and monitoring cough and shortness of breath. The email also stated that self-monitoring does not restrict access to college activity and that students are still expected to attend classes.

The college asked any students who have traveled to a country with a Level 2 or 3 Travel Health Notice from the CDC to inform the college by calling the Office of Campus Life.