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EDITORIAL: Students must take precautions to prevent coronavirus

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Rutgers has suspended all study abroad programs due to the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus around the world, according to The Daily Targum.

“University President Robert L. Barchi announced this week that all Rutgers-sponsored study abroad programs, international spring break programs and Rutgers faculty-sponsored study abroad programs for the Spring 2020 semester will be canceled,” according to the article.

This action proves that there is a big difference between the University and the federal government’s response to the advent of coronavirus: Rutgers is actually taking drastic steps to combat the spread.

President Donald J. Trump refused to tackle the issue head on, and since the outbreak led to a volatile — and declining — stock market, he was quick to dismiss it as nothing more than a hoax, a tactic used often by this administration when things are not going its way.

Instead of organizing a competent effort to combat the virus, Trump opted to blame the media and his political foes for sensationalizing it, retreating from the reality of the situation by energizing his base via propaganda.

“Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation,” according to Politico.

Trump’s usual tactics of avoiding all blame and pinning all the ills endured by the United States on his opponents are dangerous enough under normal circumstances, but with a potential public health crisis looming, they become deadly.

Trump has lied his way through this outbreak so far, and his narrative is making its way into real policy, as he limits the platform of experts in the field and relegates Vice President Mike Pence to the task of combatting coronavirus. 

Pence has a nasty track record when it comes to mitigating outbreaks like this. Back when he was governor of Indiana, his poor planning and lack of a secular ideology led to an HIV outbreak that was worse than it had to be.

“What happened is that Pence failed to act in response to increasingly urgent signs of a significant HIV outbreak, and he delayed implementation of vital public health measures. Among public health experts, the Indiana outbreak is considered a failure of state response and an example of how poor political leadership can actually make a crisis worse,” according to Politico.

The administration has also contradicted the words of medical practitioners, providing the public outright false information.

“(Trump) said that the virus could get worse or better in the days and weeks ahead, but that nobody knows, contradicting Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, one of the country’s leading experts on viruses and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease,” according to The New York Times.

New Jersey now has an infection reported in the state as well, with a case being found in Bergen County. 

Needless to say, the public of New Jersey and Rutgers cannot put its faith in the federal government to adequately tackle this medical crisis head on. Rather than leaning on the government response as one that will prevent the outbreak from reaching our community, we need to prepare as individuals to keep coronavirus far from Rutgers.

First, we all need to wash our hands. It is a simple instruction we have heard since childhood, but with a pandemic hovering over our heads, it is more important than ever to scrub up after touching anything in a public space.

For students in particular, this next piece of advice is critical to follow: Do not go into the public if you are feeling under the weather. Classes at Rutgers are often large in number, so going out while sick puts your classmates at jeopardy. 

Other simple tips include not touching your face and utilizing healthcare services provided by the University or your personal practitioner.

Spring break is also coming up in a bit more than a week, so it is also important to heed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice and not travel to countries considered to be risky destinations, such as China, Italy or Iran.

We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves — and our community — healthy.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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