University recommends self-quarantine for CPAC attendees

Isabella Gentile and Ben Crawley, Editor-in-Chief and News Editor

15 students and one faculty member who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, are being asked to self-quarantine until March 14 after an attendee from New Jersey tested positive for COVID-19.

CPAC occurred at the end of February just outside of Washington, D.C. According to a statement released by the organization, the infected attendee never went to events in the main hall, the area that had the most people in it. He also did not attend the conference on the day President Trump spoke. He did, however, meet Texas Senator Ted Cruz and shook his hand. Cruz said he is self-quarantining to prevent the possible spread of the illness. 

The request came in an email sent to the RWU students who attended the conference yesterday morning by Vice President for Student Life John King, on behalf of the university’s Emergency Response Planning (ERP) team. 

King asked the students to be prepared with answers to multiple questions, in order to provide Student Life with relevant information. They were asked if they currently feel ill or have any symptoms. Additionally, the students were asked to list the classes they attended, gatherings they went to and anyone they were in close contact with after returning from the conference.

King told The Hawks’ Herald that people should not read too much into the questions students were asked to answer. He said many of those questions were pertinent only if the students were symptomatic, and that the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is guiding the university on response and procedures.

As of last night, King also told The Hawks’ Herald he had communicated with all the roommates of the attendees but one, whose information they were still waiting to confirm. He said several members of the ERP team spent most of yesterday working on this concern and the team was supposed to meet at 8 a.m. today.

Campus wide communication is set to go out this morning.

Colleges across the nation have been transitioning to remote courses in order to prevent spread of the disease. Bryant University in Smithfield announced on March 10 it was moving to all online classes from March 17-27. Schools like the University of Washington have made the move to go completely remote.

According to John Hopkins University, there are over 500 COVID-19 cases across America. Rhode Island has three cases and RIDOH is urging residents to take preventative measures such as washing their hands, avoiding close personal contact and staying home if they are feeling sick.