Low risk of COVID-19 on campus after student exposed

Student nurse Riddhi Patel gives a handwashing demonstration in the quad. PHOTO BY HANNAH WORKMAN
Student nurse Riddhi Patel gives a handwashing demonstration in the quad. PHOTO BY HANNAH WORKMAN

Delta College’s Stockton campus was alerted to a potential COVID-19 exposure case on March 4.

A health sciences student was treating a patient at a medical facility outside of San Joaquin County on Sunday, according to an email sent by Superintendent/President Dr. Omid Pourzanjani to Delta staff on Wednesday afternoon. 

The patient later tested positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 — after the student had returned to school on Monday. 

The student hasn’t shown any symptoms and has chosen to isolate themselves for a 14-day period after learning they were exposed, according to the email. 

This student also hasn’t tested positive, and is taking precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. There are no confirmed cases at Delta, Pourzanjani wrote.

COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that causes respiratory illness, according to the CDC. It was first detected in Wuhan City, China, and has since spread to nearly every continent. 

As of Thursday, 11 people have died of the virus in the U.S.: 10 in Washington state and one in Placer County. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in California as a result. 

Last week, the Los Rios Community College District announced in a news release that four students had been exposed to COVID-19. All four have since isolated themselves.

The risk to campus remains low, according to the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health.

“We understand that this might cause concern; however, the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health says that the risk to Delta College students, staff and faculty is very low. Again, out of an abundance of caution, we are sanitizing all relevant areas on campus,” Pourzanjani wrote in his email to the general campus community.

After the alert to the exposure case, a Delta College Facebook group with more than 5,200 people received reactions from the community, urging students to consider the low risk.

Responses ranges from concern about potential spread to ridicule of those posting, specifically as it spreads fear. One student asked why classes weren’t canceled.

An FAQ on the deltacollege.edu website addressed that specific question.

“On the recommendation of public health experts, Delta remains open and all classes and events are continuing as schedule,” the answer read to the “Should I come to class?” question. “We will continue to consult with experts in the public health field and will make any further announcements as conditions warrant.”

In the meantime, Delta is taking steps to lower the risk of exposure.

Disinfectant and hand sanitizer stations have been ordered and will be installed at high traffic areas around campus.

Signs have been posted on restroom mirrors across campus with hand washing tips.

Hand washing stations were set up in the quad on Thursday where proper techniques were demonstrated.

“Public health officials recommend washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick,” said Delta College’s FAQ.

Health science students also passed out handouts for proper hand washing during the Thursday Rock the Vote event in the quad.

The college is also urging staff to help educate students about communicable diseases  to prevent stigmas associated with COVID-19.

“The risk of getting coronavirus is currently low in the US, due in part to quick action from health authorities. However, some people are worried about the disease. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma towards Chinese or other Asian-Americans. Stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate an infectious disease with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease (for example, Chinese-Americans and other Asian-Americans living in the United States),” the FAQ said.

Students should continue to attend classes unless they are sick. The risk, published information says, remains low at Delta College. 

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or developed symptoms, contact your primary care provider or San Joaquin County Public Health Clinical Services at 209-468-3411.

More information about COVID-19 may be found at:

  • deltacollege.edu/coronavirus
  • bit.ly/coronavirusCDC
  • bit.ly/coronavirusSJC