UIndy announces coronavirus task force, stops supporting travel to high-risk areas as outbreak escalates

As the number of COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to rise worldwide, the University of Indianapolis will be forming a COVID-19 task force, University President Robert Manuel announced in an email on a Feb. 29 to the UIndy community. The university will also no longer be supporting travel to high-risk areas as determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those areas include China, Italy, Iran, Japan and South Korea, Manuel said.

There have been 71 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. as of Feb. 29, according to CNN. Forty-four of those cases were people who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three were repatriated from China and 24 of the cases originated in the U.S., according to CNN

Worldwide, there are more than 85,000 cases and more than 2,900 deaths as of March 1, according to CNN. On Feb. 29, the first death in the U.S. was reported in Washington state, according to the CDC. 

Hannah A Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention This is a transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots.

The task force was created as part of Manuel’s plan to manage UIndy’s response to the virus, Manuel said. COVID-19’s spread has presented considerable challenges to the UIndy community and the people they serve. The plan will ensure the university has a responsibility to the potential impacts of the virus on the UIndy community, he said. 

UIndy has been in regular contact with the CDC and while the number of cases in the United States remains low, the university wanted to be proactive, he said. 

Manuel said that the CDC’s list of high-risk areas is subject to change and that the UIndy community should monitor the CDC’s “COVID-19 information for Travelers” website. If members of the community have university-related travel plans to the areas on the CDC list, they should work with their supervisors to determine if they need to make alternate plans, he said.

As of Feb. 29, the CDC has issued Level 3 Travel Health Notices for China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to those areas, according to the CDC. The entry of foreign nationals from China and Iran has also been suspended, according to the CDC.

The CDC has also issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Japan, which means that Japan is undergoing “sustained community transmission” of a respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 that can spread from person to person, according to the CDC. Under Level 2, the CDC recommends that older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel to those areas. 

UIndy’s COVID-19 task force will be responsible for creating a strategic plan that will protect the health and safety of the UIndy community, while also allowing the university to continue to operate as normal as possible during a potential virus outbreak, Manuel said. The community includes the physical campus, international partner sites, students, faculty, staff neighbors, alumni and friends, he said.

The task force will be chaired by Manuel, Vice President and General Counsel Andrea Newsom and Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Neil Perdue, Manuel announced in the email. The task force will also be organized to address specific areas, such as health and public safety and academic functioning, he said. 

Those specific areas will have their own chairs and UIndy has also created a “representative task force” as part of the COVID-19 task force that is composed of several campus leaders, Manuel said.

COVID-19 Task Force Areas:

  1. Municipal and local organization coordination: Chaired by Associate Vice President of Alumni Engagement Andy Kocher
  2. Health and public safety: Chaired by University of Indianapolis Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety David Selby
  3. Communication with our communities: Chaired by Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Kelly Hauflaire
  4. Academic functioning: Chaired by Executive Vice President and Provost Stephen Kolison
  5. Student well-being and support: Chaired by Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli
  6. Business operational continuity: Chaired by Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer Jason Dudich
  7. Employee affairs: Chaired by Director of Human Resources Erin Farrell
  8. Events and activities: Chaired by Vice President and Secretary to the University Lara Mann

Representative Task Force:

  • Faculty Senate President and Assistant Professor of Biology Kim Baker
  • Vice President for University Mission Michael Cartwright
  • Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer Jason Dudich
  • Director of Human Resources Erin Farrell
  • Associate Provost for International Engagement and Chief International Officer Jodie Ferise
  • Director of Communications & Content Strategy Sara Galer
  • Director of the Public Health Program and Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Public Health Heidi Hancher-Rauch                                                                                              
  • Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Kelly Hauflaire
  • Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Steven Herriford
  • Associate Vice President of Alumni Engagement Andy Kocher
  • Executive Vice President and Provost Stephen Kolison
  • Vice President and Secretary to the University Lara Mann
  • University President Robert Manuel
  • Vice President for University Advancement Christopher Molloy
  • Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Neil Perdue
  • University of Indianapolis Chief of Police and Director of Campus Safety David Selby
  • Vice President and Chief Inclusion and Equity Officer Amber Smith
  • Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli
  • Vice President of Enrollment Services Ron Wilks
  • Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sue Willey

The COVID-19 task force will start sending out regular updates to the UIndy community as they work on their plans and learn more about the potential impact of the virus, Manuel said. The updates are also planned to be put on myUIndy in a centralized location, he said.

UPDATE: Mar. 4, 2020 at 10:45 a.m.

UIndy’s coronavirus web portal is now available on the myUIndy homepage under the Coronavirus Updates button. There is also a coronavirus page on UIndy’s public website. The public page is located at http://uindy.edu/coronavirus.