UW-Oshkosh preparing to potentially house coronavirus patients

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Preparations are underway at UW-Oshkosh to possibly use campus dorms for cornoavirus patients. The university says the state Departments of Health Services and Administration has asked the campus to prepare.

(WBAY photo)

Like other colleges and universities across the state, UW-Oshkosh students will finish the semester online. The university giving students this past Saturday and Sunday, plus time on Monday, to remove their belongings from all residence halls. The move comes as university officials say they were asked by the state to prepare to potentially house coronavirus patients.

"We would be housing the more mild cases of people who might be ill or also people who need to be put in quarantine. So, we anticipate these being local patients for the most part," says UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt.

The university doesn't have a lot of specifics on how or when the plan to use campus housing would be enacted. Action 2 News has learned as move out of their dorms, cleaning crews are moving in. And while the university is focusing on preparing Horizon Village and Gruenhagen first, it has yet to confirm what facilities would be used.

Leavitt says, "That's going to be determined by DOA and DHS exactly which residence halls will be involved and so we are just making them all available."

In addition to potentially housing patients, Chancellor Leavitt says the university was asked to find a pool of volunteers to help if the facilities are used, specifically those with medical knowledge and date entry. The chancellor says in a matter of hours after the call went out, more than a hundred people have stepped up and offered to help. Leavitt adds, "I think that's sort of testament to what we're all doing these days, we have to come together as a community in order to beat this."

Older people and those with underlying health conditions (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) are considered at high risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People with those conditions should take the proper precautions.

COVID-19 is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

"The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick," says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. CLICK HERE for more information on symptoms. Emergency signs include pain and pressure in the chest, confusion and bluish lips or face.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear between two and 14 days after contact with an infected person.

VISIT wbay.com/coronavirus for complete local, national and international coverage of the outbreak.

DHS recommends taking these steps to help stop the spread of the virus:

--Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water.
--Covering coughs and sneezes.
--Avoiding touching your face.
--Staying home when sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone in the United States avoid large events and mass gatherings for at least eight weeks.

The virus originated in Wuhan, China. The spread started in December 2019.