The virus COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, has begun to impact life in Oregon as the virus spreads throughout the world. Events locally are being canceled, and while schools are not seeing a large drop in attendance, health officials are closely monitoring those infected in efforts to try to keep the deadly virus at bay.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 500 people have died from the virus as of March 9, which is thought to have passed from infected bats to humans through a live animal market in Wuhan, China, starting last December. Although this is the suspected cause, no link has been established through scientific peer review.
Closer to home, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on March 8 when the amount of cases presumed to have the virus doubled to 14, with one being confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus has been more deadly in Washington, where 22 people have died, according to the CDC. Nationally, there have been 1000 reported cases of COVID-19 and 31 deaths.
The rise in cases and deaths has prompted officials to take precautions in regards to holding large events in order to limit exposure to the virus. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has banned events that hold more than 250 people, for example, and a similar guideline is being followed loosely in Oregon.
The 16th annual Northwest Career Fair, scheduled for March 10, was canceled over the weekend just a few days before the event was to be held.
“We are heartbroken,” said Portland Workforce Alliance Board President Anna Yates of Swift. “The Careers Expo is a unique community event and the breakfast is a celebration of so many partnerships.”
The event, which takes a year of planning, brings together industry partners and high school students at the Oregon Convention Center to ignite their passion for careers after high school. It also provides resume writing tips and practice interviewing for jobs.
“I was looking forward to going and getting a CRLE done, one of the graduation requirements,” said Jaxon Anderson, a freshman.
The cancellation of the career fair started a wave of events either being canceled or postponed. Cleveland’s popular Versus assembly, scheduled for Thursday, March 12, was postponed as was the dance, to be held Friday, March 13. The spring band concert, scheduled for Wednesday, March 11 was canceled.
“I had plans on Friday to go to the dance, but now that it’s not happening my plans are a bit messed up,” said Sylvia Strupp, sophomore.
According to Phu Dao, attendance coach, attendance has not yet dropped in the past few weeks, but says that it may do so as the virus gains ground in Portland.
Across the US, multiple schools have been closed due to exposure to the Coronavirus and the students have been taking part in “long distance learning.” In an interview, Principal Paul Cook talked about the likelihood of this happening at Cleveland.
“There are really no concrete answers right now,” he said. He also clarified that “it’s essentially a district decision, so it’s all up to the district to decide.”
The COVID-19 virus is also ruining Spring Break plans. Senior Rael Wendrow and her family and some friends had planned a trip from March 18-29 to Israel, but her family was notified March 6 that Israel health authorities were mandating a two-week quarantine protocol for any new arrivals to the country, effectively ending their plans.
“I’m hugely disappointed,” Wendrow said, citing the fact that many members of her family have been as well as friends and have related that it was a spiritual journey for them. “I just really wanted to go and see what the hype is all about. Israel is the home of the Jews. It’s amazing and special. I just wanted to understand it. It’s very devastating.”
Wendrow said that the tour her family is on is postponed, not canceled, “which technically means we can still go on the trip, but I don’t know if I will want to go in another year because I’ll be in college. The only good outcome of not going to Israel is that I can keep my perfect attendance in Hebrew school,” Wendrow said.
The Cleveland band has been planning to go to Disneyland over Spring Break. So far, this is still going to happen, but many other school events have been canceled as well as some students’ Spring Break plans being changed or canceled.
On the other hand, many people have alternatives to enjoy the break, like staying closer to home, or driving instead of taking an airplane.