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Transcript of Media Availability Davis Campus Update on Response to Coronavirus

By News and Media Relations on February 28, 2020 in University

Feb. 27, 2020 Media Availability: Davis Campus Update on Response to Coronavirus

This is a transcript of the video of the media availability.

  • Melissa Blouin, director, News and Media Relations, UC Davis
  • Ronald “Ron” Chapman, M.D., M.P.H., health officer, Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency
  • Cindy Schorzman, M.D., F.A.A.A.P., medical director, Student Health and Counseling Services, UC Davis
  • Mike Sheehan, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs: Housing, Dining and Divisional Operations, UC Davis

BLOUIN: I’m Melissa Blouin, and I’m the director of News and Media Relations for UC Davis, and today we have with us Dr. Ronald Chapman, who is the health officer for the Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency; Cindy Schorzman, the medical director of the Student Health and Counseling Services for UC Davis; and Mike Sheehan, the associate vice chancellor for housing and dining. So, I’ll let Dr. Chapman start.

DR. CHAPMAN: Great, thank you. Thank you for coming out this afternoon. Again, I’m Dr. Ron Chapman, and I’m the Yolo County public health officer. And I wanted to start today by giving you an overview, giving you some global context of where we’re at with coronavirus — this is getting a lot of media coverage — and to place what’s happening locally in, first, international context. As you’re aware, there are over 80,000 cases of coronavirus in the world.

Unfortunately, there have been over 2,000 deaths. Most of the cases and deaths have been in China. You're probably aware that, recently, we’ve seen increasing spread to other countries. And you’re probably aware that in South Korea, for example, there are now easily over 1,000 cases. In northern Italy, there are hundreds of cases. Both those countries are taking very strong measures to try and contain and limit the spread of coronavirus. Here in our own country, we have had a handful of cases — approximately 15 cases nationwide and an additional number that came over from a cruise ship in Japan where they were flown over to Travis Air Force Base and folks are aware of that.

In California, there are a handful of cases, and to this point there has been no evidence of community spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, which means that there’s no evidence of person-to-person transmission in communities around the country until, as you've heard yesterday, there was an unfortunate case where an individual got very sick in Solano County and has been hospitalized in Sacramento, and at this point in time we’re working very closely with CDC and the California Department of Public Health and our surrounding local health department colleagues to try to figure out where this individual actually was exposed and obtained the coronavirus, or COVID-19, because that person did not have any known travel.

So, I want to explain to you some of the steps that we take in public health to help contain the spread of a virus like this. These are measures that we take many times during the year to control flu outbreaks, to control the outbreak of other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. It’s very common for us to use isolation and quarantine of individuals, for example, in nursing homes when there is an outbreak of the flu in nursing homes. That’s all done to protect people and to prevent the spread of those infections. So, we have started some measures similar to that here on the UC Davis campus. You’re going to hear some details about that very shortly. I do want to emphasize again that in this county, in Yolo County, in the city of Davis, on the UC Davis campus, there is no evidence for the spread of the coronavirus, there’s no evidence of the transmission of the virus.

I lastly want to put this in the context of the fact that we are still in the midst of flu season, so at this point in time we’re seeing some pretty large increases in flu cases — this is particularly what’s called influenza A — and in the United States and even in Yolo County, we’re seeing a lot of cases. So our emergency departments are busy, our hospitals are busy, our nursing homes are busy with folks that have the flu. My advice, during flu season, and while we’re working on containing the spread of a virus, of coronavirus, my advice is to use public health practices such as washing your hands regularly, to cover your cough if you have a cough, and, most importantly, if you’re sick, to stay home so you don’t spread the flu or any other viruses out there. So at this point in time, I’ll turn it over so you can hear about some of the local efforts going on. Thank you.

DR. SCHORZMAN: Hi, good afternoon. My name is Cindy Schorzman, I’m the medical director at UC Davis Student Health and Counseling. We appreciate our close coordination with Yolo County public health, as well as our campus partners, and have really all been working together to make sure our students stay safe and healthy. We have increased our efforts at Student Health and Counseling Services in accordance with the CDC guidelines, so we are asking every student who comes in for an appointment at the Student Health and Wellness Center about their recent travel history as well as about any possible contacts with people who are known to be sick with COVID-19. We have increased our cleaning efforts and really worked with campus partners on getting the word out, you know, how do you stay healthy as a student? Trying to mitigate a lot of the fear that’s been associated with this virus. Taking it very seriously and also trying to really empower people with knowledge so that they’re able to keep themselves safe.

And we appreciate the efforts of our campus partners. To date, we have — just to reiterate — we have no known infections on campus. We have no COVID-19-positive individuals on campus. We currently have one student who is a patient under investigation and is not currently on campus; they are isolating at home. So, I would like to turn it over to my colleague to talk about the tremendous efforts they’re doing in housing and dining as well.

SHEEHAN: Hi, thank you. Mike Sheehan, associate vice chancellor for Housing and Dining Services. I — just to reiterate, student safety, staff safety are of paramount importance. That’s why we’re taking all the efforts we are taking to be very careful, very intentional with how we’re addressing this issue. We have increased our — increased our sanitation efforts on all of our residential properties and all of our dining properties. All of those actions are now going from what might be a weekly basis in some stan -- in some operations, to daily, to hourly. Again, just to be really safe that we are having good clean sanitized property.

We’ve been working very closely with the students involved, both to help them be comfortable with where they’re at right now and also to, you know, help them continue to be successful academically. We’re in Week 8 of the winter quarter, so they are probably getting a little bit stressed right now about grades and finals that are coming up, so we’re engaging with them as well as engaging with our partners on the academic side of the house to ensure that they will be successful. I think that we can probably take some questions now?

DR. CHAPMAN: Sure.

BLOUIN: So let me — we have — we have 17 people on the line and we know that you’re on the line, but we would like to take questions from the room first and then we will take some questions from the line, so just wanted to …

QUESTION: I’m wondering if one of you guys can explain what community-based spread means?

DR. CHAPMAN: Sure, this is Dr. Chapman again, Yolo County public health officer. So, what we’ve been seeing with COVID-19, we’ve had people returning from China who have tested positive in the United States, again a handful of cases, and these are folks that became infected in China, especially in the epicenter where most of the cases are coming from worldwide. When we talk about community spread in the United States, what it means is, for example, with the flu, when somebody gets sick, they cough and can spread it to other people. Oftentimes, two or three people can get infected from one person with the flu, and once that spread begins, it can spread quickly from person to person through families, through nursing homes or hospitals, as I mentioned, so that’s what we’re talking about when we mention community spread.

QUESTION: Those — those other individuals who are at the — the residence hall, the three members, how to — how — or, what is being done to ensure that that isolation of those people who may have come into contact with, possible coronavirus, is being isolated to just those individuals and it doesn’t spread throughout the rest of the residence hall?

DR. CHAPMAN: Again, Dr. Chapman, Yolo County public health. These are commonly used public health measures, which again we use with tuberculosis, other viruses like the flu, and, since Feb. 3, the federal government has been restricting and screening folks that have been entering from mainland China, entering the United States. When those folks enter the United States and are screened at one of 11 airports, the list of travelers is then forwarded to their counties of origin. So we, for example, Yolo County, might receive the names of those travelers. All those travelers from China are restricted, isolated or what we call quarantined. They are requested to stay at home. Local public health interviews those people, we monitor them, we make sure that they’re following the — the guidelines that the Centers for Disease Control and the feds have set. So, the three individuals we’re looking here at UC Davis campus, we’re doing the same thing with them that we’re doing with travelers all over the country and have been doing for the last three weeks.

QUESTION: I understand.

QUESTION: Could — can you clarify when these students were put into isolation?

SHEEHAN: Sure, we have — Mike Sheehan, Student Housing and Dining — we have three students. So one student is off site, he’s been off site since the 25th, so a couple days ago, and then two remaining students who we connected with last night and we've — we offered them another opportunity on campus where they could be isolated and they — we moved them last night.

QUESTION: Any ideas if any of these three had any sort of contact with that Solano County patient?

SHEEHAN: You know, we really can’t speak to the Solano County patient situation. You know, there’s patient rights there and we really don’t want to get into that.

QUESTION: I understand the other two are asymptomatic, at what point —

SHEEHAN: Correct.

QUESTION: — do you begin to maybe do any type of tests or any type of feeling out if they do start to develop anything to make sure it doesn’t spread from three to more?

DR. CHAPMAN: Sure, great question. So again, Dr. Chapman, Yolo County public health officer for the folks on the phone. So, the federal guidelines are a 14-day isolation or quarantine from the day of exposure. If at any time during those 14 days the person becomes symptomatic, like a runny nose, a cough, a fever, anything along those lines that looks like typically the flu, then they would be considered for testing for the coronavirus. At this point in time, there’s only one place in the United States that’s doing testing, and that’s CDC in Atlanta, so they are the ones that are deciding who gets tested and making sure that those folks meet criteria and then specimen samples are sent back to Atlanta for tests.

QUESTION: Anything else being done to protect other students at UC Davis from also going into isolation?

SHEEHAN: As I mentioned earlier, we’ve increased all of our sanitation efforts in all of our residence hall properties as well as all of our dining properties. And then also getting the message out, we’ve been getting that message out for quite some time on normal hygiene, what’s best during flu season. We’ve also just sent out a message — our chancellor just sent out a message to the whole campus, and we’ll be using that as well to reiterate that message with all of our students in housing and our staff in housing.

DR. CHAPMAN: Dr. Chapman, yeah, I think it’s important for all the students to understand that we only put folks in quarantine if they’re return travelers from one of these high-risk countries, specifically mainland China, or they've been exposed to somebody who potentially has coronavirus. And there are no other students on this campus that fall into either of those criteria. So, the rest of the students are — are safe, not exposed to coronavirus. Again, the same as the rest of the city of Davis, and the rest of Yolo County. There is no other exposures at this time.

QUESTION: For the three students, did they go to China or were they exposed a different way?

DR. CHAPMAN: So as Mike said, there — there’s some privacy here that we need to respect, and that’s one of those questions. We need to respect the privacy of the students and so I can’t.

QUESTION: Are all three in the city of Davis still? When they’re being quarantined?

DR. CHAPMAN: I think that’s another privacy question. I don’t know if you have shared any of that information, or [looking to Sheehan] ...

SHEEHAN: No, I think that’s — we need to be mindful of that privacy.

QUESTION: Just to clarify, you said that the one student who was showing symptoms is being tested and is isolating at home or inside somewhere? Is that correct?

SHEEHAN: Yeah, I believe that that student may be elsewhere.

DR. SCHORZMAN: I can confirm that that student is isolating at home, not on campus.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: And your name, ma’am?

DR. SCHORZMAN: Oh, Cin — Dr. Cindy Schorzman. I’m the medical director of Student Health and Counseling Services.

BLOUIN: Do we have questions on the phone?

QUESTION: Yeah, this is Mike [name] from I Heart Media. Do we know exactly why the patient from Solano County was transported to Sacramento versus, say, the Bay Area?

DR. SCHORZMAN: No — I’m sorry.

DR. CHAPMAN: I think that’s a question for the med center.

DR. SCHORZMAN: I’m sorry, we don’t have that information. That would actually be a question for Sacramento County public health and the medical center.

QUESTION: Hi, this is Colleen Shalby from the L.A. Times. Follow-up … am I cutting someone off?

DR. CHAPMAN: Yeah, go ahead.

DR. SCHORZMAN: Yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: All right, if any of the students that are currently in isolation do show symptoms or, you know, do end up being positive for coronavirus, what are the next steps for the school? Is there anybody in contact that — in contact with them previously that would then go into isolation? Is there any sort of precautions that are being set up?

DR. CHAPMAN: Yeah, great question, thank you. Again, Dr. Chapman here. We like to think of containing the spread of an infection like some concentric rings. So, you know, we know these three students were potentially exposed to coronavirus, so that’s kind of the — the inner ring. And if they don’t turn out positive then the ring doesn't expand any further. If they do turn out positive, then we start asking more questions to see if potentially other folks were exposed or potentially exposed, but at this point it really feels like we've gotten on top of the situation very early so hopefully we wouldn’t need — would not need to expand those rings of investigation.

QUESTION: Can I ask you a question, too?

BLOUIN: Yes.

QUESTION: My name is Lesley McClurg from KQED. What was — what gave you the indication that these three students — what was happening to these three students? Why are they in isolation? How was it alerted?

DR. CHAPMAN: Again, Dr. Chapman. I can’t give specific details because I need to respect the privacy of those three individuals. But I can tell you that they’ve been potentially exposed to someone with coronavirus and that makes them in a category where it’s best to quarantine them for the time period, the 14 days, to make sure that they don’t display symptoms so that they don’t spread — potentially spread the infection.

QUESTION: But we don’t know if those people that they were in contact with were — if those were people who had traveled? Is that likely?

DR. CHAPMAN: Again, I can’t give you that information. But we’re — we’re — we’re aware of — of where their exposure came from. And so we have that part also under public health measures.

QUESTION: Why did Sac ...

QUESTION: [Name] from CNN here. I’m questioning about the student that is under investigation from the virus. [Interruption] The one that’s under investigation — when do you anticipate getting those test results back?

DR. CHAPMAN: This is Dr. Chapman again. As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, this is not like going to your local lab or hospital and getting a blood test. It’s not even close to that. Unfortunately, there is only one testing place in the United States and it’s in Atlanta, Georgia, with CDC. And so, it takes a day just to transport the specimens. And these specimens, they’re — they’re called nasopharyngeal swabs and oropharyngeal swabs, they’re — they’re basically cotton-type tipped swabs that go in the nose and go in the mouth and the throat and you get the samples from those places. And they’re put in special tubes and — and then transported to CDC. At this point in time, we’re usually looking around three to four days before we get results back. The CDC’s doing hundreds of tests from all over the country and that’s about the time that we’re seeing.

BLOUIN: There’s one question in the room and we’ll go back to the phone.

QUESTION: Oh, yeah, you mentioned that the Sacramento County public health made that determination, that he — they went to UC Davis [interruption] the Solano person or … explain that to me.

DR. CHAPMAN: I think, no, I think that the point was that the question was best for the UC Davis Med Center. We have not been involved with the care of that patient at all, so we wouldn’t know any details.

QUESTION: Okay. But you mentioned Sacramento County health with that, they’re not involved in that decision?

DR. CHAPMAN: The decision to transport?

QUESTION: Yes.

DR. CHAPMAN: I don’t know if they were or weren’t. Honestly. I wasn’t involved with any of that part of the story.

BLOUIN: To the phone again?

QUESTION: Hello.

BLOUIN: Yes, any other questions?

QUESTION: Yeah, this is Mackenzie Mays with Politico. Can you say if the three students are somewhat related? I don’t mean as in family members, but, you know, are these three separate potential cases of people who were exposed to the virus or would they have been together or traveled together?

DR. CHAPMAN: I can get that.

DR. SCHORZMAN: I can get it.

DR. CHAPMAN: Okay.

DR. SCHORZMAN: Hi, Cindy Schorzman, Student Health and Counseling Services. We can confirm that the reason that they were — all decided to be isolated is because they were roommates.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you. And can you, Dr. Schorzman, can you —

DR. SCHORZMAN: Yes.

QUESTION: — clarify for me the difference between the one student who’s isolating at home and then these two other students? Is it because one was diagnosed earlier and — and that’s the only real difference here, or what is the difference between having one suspicious case and then the difference between those two that were just moved last night?

DR. CHAPMAN: So — it’s Dr. Chapman — so by CDC guidelines, anyone who has potentially been exposed to coronavirus that has the symptoms that I described earlier becomes what’s called a “person under investigation,” that’s the CDC federal term— it’s called a PUI — and those folks are in the queue to actually get the testing at CDC for the coronavirus. And that's the distinction between that person and the other two is the fact that they have symptoms. And they’re very mild symptoms. Again, like a runny nose-cough type of thing.

QUESTION: So these other two don’t even have symptoms yet, this is just a precaution?

DR. CHAPMAN: That’s correct.

QUESTION: Okay. One more question: Have you guys been to talk with any sort of, you know, higher-ups in the higher ed world, any sort of college conversations? Did you hear of any other campuses that are either, a) dealing with the same isolation, or b) you know, thinking up of a plan of when maybe you might have to cancel classes or do something at a higher level?

DR. SCHORZMAN: This is Dr. Cindy Schorzman again. Absolutely, the UC campuses have all been meeting together three times a week on a call to coordinate efforts and to coordinate knowledge and to make sure that we’re all providing the very best resources we can for our students. I know that the chancellors and vice chancellors are also all meeting to really discuss this, learn from everyone else’s past practices and experiences so we can all go forward together.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Can I iterate the … [overlapping voices] sorry.

DR. CHAPMAN: You know, I’m gonna make — I’m gonna make one — sure. I’m gonna make one quick comment. Again, just to repeat that we are still in the midst of a very, very high level of flu during our flu season and the best way to stay healthy during this time of the year is to follow the classic, tried-and-true public health methods, which is to wash your hands regularly, cover a cough, if you’re sick, stay home, so you don’t spread the virus to other people, and get the flu shot. I mean, that is absolutely the best way to protect yourself from the flu. And I don’t know what you were looking for specifically —

QUESTION: I’m sorry, I missed the first 10 minutes. Could you reiterate the reason that we were called? Sorry it’s a public health thing, otherwise I would just say I was late, but...

DR. CHAPMAN: That’s all right.

DR. SCHORZMAN: So we do have one UC Davis student who is a patient under investigation for the coronavirus. They are not on campus, they are isolating at home. So that was the reason that we all got called together.

BLOUIN: Other questions from the phone? All right, thank you, everybody.

DR. CHAPMAN: Thank you.

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