Photo by Riley Sine

By Sarah Forester

Last week, the coronavirus (COVID-19) was confirmed to officially be in the Kirkland Area. Since the outbreak, the Northwest University community has implemented increased awareness of health and safety procedures as well as precautions in group settings.

On Saturday evening, Feb. 29,  all members of the NU community received an email from President Joseph Castleberry, regarding the first documented death in the United States, which occurred at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland.

“We received reports today of the first death in the United States from Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), and it occurred here in Kirkland at EvergreenHealth Medical Center,” Castleberry said.

He went on to discuss the university’s actions regarding the virus and how NU will prioritize the health and safety of its community.

“The health and safety of every member of our community is always our highest priority, and we want to take every responsible step to counter the outbreak of the disease,” Castleberry said.

Castleberry urged the community to take some basic actions to fight against the contamination of this disease; including praying over the government’s decisions and families affected by the disease, staying home if you have respiratory illness symptoms, washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

On Sunday night, a follow-up email was sent to the NU community, discussing the actions NU would take to decrease interpersonal contact for preventing the spread of the illness. This includes the cancelation of chapel services, select student activities, and closing the Eagle Fitness Center through spring break. While these events are cancelled, all classes will continuing in person unless further action is necessary.

Today’s video update from Castleberry can be found here.

As of Feb. 29, the King County Public Health Department has reported that “most coronavirus illnesses are mild with fever and cough. The vast majority of people with novel coronavirus infection do not require hospital care. A much smaller percentage of people get severely ill with respiratory problems like pneumonia. Elderly people and people with underlying medical conditions are at highest risk.”

If you would like more information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC website or the King County Public Health website. NU will continue to update the campus community through daily updates on their website, which can be viewed here.

In addition to these resources, any student who might be experiencing the symptoms of the virus (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath) needs to call the Wellness Center at (425) 899-5282 for more information on how to be proactive with illness at this time.