COVID-19 wipes out April break plans

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Plans for traveling over April break come to a halt as the corona virus spreads and travel bans are set in place.

Graham Wood '20

As the recent COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Coronavirus outbreak, first identified in December, spreads around the world and the United States, students are finding travel abroad more and more unlikely, with many scrapping international trips altogether.
Despite the reconsideration of planned trips to Europe, President Trump set students’ and their families’ decisions in stone with a ban on travel to countries in the European Union (E.U.) (those contained in the Schengen free travel zone) that went into effect March 13 at midnight. This ban does not include the United Kingdom or Ireland, however these countries may be added to the travel restriction as cases spike.
Owen Dolan, a junior, abandoned his trip to Italy due to the recent outbreak. “As of now I don’t think we have any alternative plans, I think we were kind of crossing our fingers that they were going to be able to stop it [COVID-19] there [Italy] before it got out of control,” Dolan ’21 said.
Italy now comes in second place on the world COVID-19 cases scale, with every country in the E.U. affected. The virus has spread to six of the world’s continents, with cases spreading exponentially in the U.S. New York City and New York state have become hot beds for the recent virus including several cases that have been reported in Connecticut prompting the closure of more than 140 schools across the state, including the Westport public school system (WPS) on March 11.
A Staples student was believed to have come in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, prompting school closure. WPS are planning to reopen on Thursday, March 26.
Cases in Europe and the U.S. have increased rapidly since February.. It seems these members of the Staples community escaped the outbreak, with both immediately healthily returning to school on their return.
“I went to Milan over break and on our last day there we heard about the outbreak, luckily we were on a flight out that night. I wasn’t affected that much other than seeing people wearing masks and the staff at the airport asked if we’d traveled to China in the last 14 days,” senior Michael Ippolito ’20 said.
As Northern Italy, especially the region of Lombardy and the cities of Milan and Venice have become ground zero of the European COVID-19 outbreak, Ippolito and those who also traveled abroad over February break have been checking up on their health.
“I was traveling with my dad and as soon as we heard about the outbreak we just stayed in the hotel and were washing our hands a ton, it was definitely scary but the outbreak was I think 50 miles away from us so I wasn’t too worried,” Ippolito ’20 said.
Considering Connecticut borders New York, with many citizens working in the neighboring state, several cases and also viral scares have popped up since the start of the epidemic.
As early as Jan. 26, Staples Model United Nations (MUN) club’s trip to the 46th International Yale MUN conference was cut one day short on Jan. 26 due to a coronavirus (COVID-19) scare.
One Chinese student at the conference began to show flu-like symptoms, mirroring those of the recent Coronavirus virus.
The Chinese student was diagnosed with influenza following treatment at New Haven Hospital. The student was tested for the COVID-19 and proved negative.
Yale and the city of New Haven decided to take extra precautions when cancelling the event, considering a second scare was the same day at Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut.
“If I had heard that there was a student from that region of China who was having respiratory issues,” Thomas Brown, a counselor and advisor of Staples MUN said, “I probably would have stopped the conference, because that student already has spent three days exposing other people at that point.”
From a liability perspective, Brown understood Yale’s decision when looking over 1400 plus students, most of them being from overseas.
“I think the hardest thing is that the virus has that timespan where people are sick but don’t know it yet, like the symptoms haven’t kicked in but they’re still very contagious.”
With an incubation period said to be up to 24 days, those carrying the virus may not show symptoms for several days, making the spread of the virus illusive and much more dangerous.
Leading up until the closure of schools across the state, Connecticut was facing several viral scares -it is likely cases will continue to show up as travel between New York and Connecticut continues.
The state of New York has taken steps to quarantine and eliminate the virus’ outbreak in their state with the creation of a containment zone in New Rochelle, Westchester County. Despite the closure of WPS among many other school systems across Connecticut, it is likely that COVID-19 will continue to pop up around the state.
“It’s surprising how quickly everything has unravelled,” Dolan ’21 said. “and how ‘put on lockdown’ everything is with the Coronavirus spreading.”