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Stanford cancels in-person classes; two students in isolation pending COVID-19 test results

Original post made on Mar 6, 2020

Stanford has become the second major U.S. university to cancel in-person classes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The university also announced that two students who possibly were exposed to the virus are in self-isolation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 6, 2020, 9:15 PM

Comments (37)

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 6, 2020 at 9:27 pm

This move is wise but unfortunate.

Stanford has already taken steps to limit attendance at sporting events on campus.

With this move, I wonder if they will be able to hold the NCAA Women's Basketball tournament games on campus as planned next week.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2020 at 9:38 pm

So is Paly immune? Or, does the other side of El Camino have magical air that will protect students, staff, and teachers?

Posted by don't joke
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 6, 2020 at 9:56 pm

Let's take some guidance from the health experts and be ready either way. Proximity to Stanford would seem relevant as risk management and assessment continue, and yet Stanford is quite different because they have a constant stream of visitors from all over and our schools don't. But for now maybe being flippant about "magic air" doesn't help, and no the virus can't float across El Camino.
Web Link

Posted by don't wait
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 6, 2020 at 10:05 pm

From the NY Times -- on school closures:

Coronavirus School Closings: Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Web Link

Posted by Donald John
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2020 at 10:08 pm

Now, this is just my hunch, based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild -- they'll get better very rapidly, they don't even see a doctor, they don't even call a doctor -- you never hear about those people, so you can't put them down in the category of the overall population, in terms of this coronation flu, and/or virus. So you can’t just do that.

If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better, and then when you do have a death, like you've had in the state of Washington, like you had one in California, I believe you had one in New York.

You know, all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4%, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1%. But again, they don't know about the easy cases because the easy cases don't go to the hospital. They don't report to doctors or the hospital in many cases. So I think that that number is very high. I think the number, personally, I would say the number is way under 1%..

With the regular flu, we average from 27,000 to 77,000 deaths a year. Who would think that? I never knew that until six or eight weeks ago.

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 6, 2020 at 10:23 pm

The problems is these people with mild or no symptoms can spread the disease to many people who are vulnerable.

Posted by member
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2020 at 11:49 pm

@Donald: "I would say the [fatality rate] number is way under 1%.."

It all depends on age. For elderly it is very serious, either 10% or 30% depending how you count the 100 total patients at this nursing home example. Saying the death rate is "way under 1% like the flu" I think is just wrong, unfortunately

>The nursing home Life Care Center of Kirland has been hit hardest of any facility in the country, with 34 cases among residents, staff or visitors, and 10 deaths.

Posted by Donald John
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2020 at 7:03 am

It's going to disappear. One day it's like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better. Could maybe go away. We'll see what happens. Nobody really knows.

Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:09 am

Hopefully this is a serious wakeup call for PAUSD. Better better equipped than you to make decisions have made laid out the plan, you just need to follow.

Posted by dumbed down
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:59 am

> With the regular flu, we average from 27,000 to 77,000 deaths a year. Who would think that? I never knew that until six or eight weeks ago.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this 3 year disaster is that he is willing to say things out-loud that other folks would be too embarrassed to say; any thinking person would never admit such a hole in their knowledge, particularly when designated as a leader.

A thinking person would also read briefings, not have them dumbed down and presented by staffers loaded with graphics and mentions of 'leader' just to keep Dear Leader's attention. Web Link

Posted by Hair-Sniffing Presidential Candidate
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 10:43 am

I’m not going to tell you how to run your business, but here’s thought:

Since you are providing useful health information to the community during the current COVID-19 alert, why not remove your “7 free articles per month” limit until the crisis has subsided. Thank you for your consideration.

Posted by Thank you Weekly
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 11:51 am

"why not remove your “7 free articles per month” limit until the crisis has subsided."

On the other hand, if we don't support local papers, in good times and bad, they won't be there when we need them to provide ANY information. The alternative is to SUBSCRIBE TO THE PAPER - like pretty much everyone used to do until ~15 years ago.

Subscribe today; read all you want; and feel good that you've invested in the public interest and the public health.

Posted by Old Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 7, 2020 at 12:41 pm

This situation reminds me of the Steven King novel “The Stand”.
I keep hearing Blue Oyster Cult playing in my head.

Posted by macbaldy
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

On SF-CBS news radio today, the sports segment mentioned how college basketball playoffs are being affected by public health concerns more than high school counterparts. Although cautionary alerts are being directed at elderly and at-risk attendees, mention was made of how HS kids are less severely affected by coronavirus. It'll be interesting to see how that kind of viewpoint continues.

College campuses are stews of whatever bug is circulating, among adolescents who are in their early years fully away from parental care. HS kids generally go home for nights and weekends. Lots of what-ifs and what-thens reside on college campuses, from when thousands of off-campus students and staff commute daily.

Anyway, as a private school, Stanford is its own master, self-responsible, and is where its buck stops. Thus, prudent actions are inescapable.

Posted by SightUnseen
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 7, 2020 at 8:06 pm

The City of Palo has sent NOTHING out to any local small businesses ’ about Covid-19 mitigation. I have talked w several of these places including restaurants and copy shops. The CC meeting is canceled for Monday night. So much for tele-commuting and closing chambers to public but still holding meeting. There are no signs up at local parks or libraries about Corona virus spread! Where is our town’s action plan!!!!

Posted by Careful
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 8, 2020 at 9:58 am

Next time you want to downplay the danger of virus because of low percentage of dead people (?), remember the 20% who need intensive care. Those are actual numbers. And those numbers are higher than hospitals can take. If the virus spread does not slow down, people will unnecessary die because of lack of beds and oxygen masks at hospitals.

This is the actual issue other countries like China and Iran, etc are dealing with! They did not stop the spread of virus early.

Posted by Green Gables
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm

How about using KLEENEX when you cough or sneeze and elbow if you do not have kleenex. Kleenex catches more of your germs.

Posted by Birds
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:44 pm

Please help me with the logic here. Sending thousands of kids, possibly exposed to the virus, to head to all corners of the country and world, by plane, train, etc. And then what? Sit in their parents house? Hang out at shopping centers? Obviously no great solution here, but the virus risk for young people is low. Why not lock down the university, keep out non essential visitors/employees, and let students stay there? Was this done to protect the many (older) non students on campus....professors, employees, researchers? To avoid possibly overwhelming student healthcare? To avoid potential liability because they weren't going to be able to keep everyone safe? To me this is very different than Paly, etc which should be closed because kids go home to their parents every night, and the danger is for the parents, not the kids.

Posted by undergrads vs grad students
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 10, 2020 at 6:48 pm

The hypocrisy is that Stanford grad students (the low-paid work horses of Stanford's research enterprise) will continue to reside in their on-campus residences and work in their crowded labs. Undergrads, who have already paid their tuition, will get an inferior online education.

Posted by Wuhan Joe
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Please help me with the logic here. Sending thousands of kids, possibly exposed to the virus, to head to all corners of the country and world, by plane, train, etc. And then what? Sit in their parents house? Hang out at shopping centers? Obviously no great solution here, but the virus risk for young people is low. Why not lock down the university, keep out non essential visitors/employees, and let students stay there?

Maybe we can build a wall around Stanford. I’m sure the Army could get it done quick

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2020 at 8:14 pm

And where will all these students be that aren't in class? Out in the community where they could catch it just as easily. Unless you never leave your house, cancelling events, school, etc. doesn't do any good. It gives those same people a chance to go out in public somewhere else, where it could be caught.

Choosing to stay home on your own is erring on the side of caution. Closing everything is panicking. The one place where you're exposed to a lot of people daily is work, and most of us work for a living.

Posted by Parent
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Three TSA agents at San Jose Airport test positive for Covid-19 (8:30 pm, March 10).

Web Link

Shutting down the multi-national "Super Spreads" of academia
(Stanford, CAL, and UCLA) could potentially exacerbate the infection.

Keep them on campus.

Posted by Chrysophylla
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 10, 2020 at 9:29 pm

The dorms are similar to nursing homes and cruise ships when it comes to spreading highly contagious viruses like norovirus and COVID-19.

Posted by PAResident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:16 pm

I applaud Stanford for making this bold move. It's clear from cruises, the case in NY (1 patient to 100 positives in that city), the Life Care situation in Kirkland and Italy how quickly this thing can spread in closed quarters. This is not a at-risk population, but large numbers of people could still get sick. From reading accounts of those who have had Covid, it's a terrible experience even for young people. It's best these kids get home now.

Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 10, 2020 at 10:55 pm

The headline is not quite correct: See the statement in the article: "Stanford announced that classes would not meet in person in spring quarter until further notice". "Further notice" suggests that classes might return to in-person teaching at some point in the spring.

Posted by Fred
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:34 am

ALL extracurricular activities should be cancelled BEFORE ever cancelling classes if you are truly an institution of higher learning

I find it hypocritical that Universities across the US are cancelling or suspending classes but not still allowing sport teams to travel, via air, for events such as tournaments. I guess they already got the students money this semester!

Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:51 am

Stanford has closed athletic contests to spectators, except for a limited number of family members.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 11, 2020 at 9:53 am

While shopping at Costco last week, I saw three people (two men and a woman) sneeze without covering their mouths. It's baffling that people would do that. Everyone around them just looked at them and they just seemed annoyingly surprised that anyone even cared.

Posted by PALY parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 11, 2020 at 1:05 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Mike
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 11, 2020 at 1:31 pm


Stanford has set a very good example. Please follow it before it's too late!!

Posted by Mike
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 11, 2020 at 1:42 pm

@PALY parent

At this moment, we can't trust any numbers from China or WHO.

If WHO would have announced the virus was a global health emergency two weeks earlier, the world could have avoided many infected cases. Director Tedros Adhanom should have stepped down!

The mortality rates come from Italy, South Korea, and Iran are more accurate.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 11, 2020 at 2:31 pm

An article from Newsweek today:

I'm a doctor in a major hospital in Western Europe. Watching you Americans (and you, Brits) in these still-early days of the coronavirus pandemic is like watching a familiar horror movie, where the protagonists, yet again, split into pairs or decide to take a tour of a dark basement.

The real-life versions of this behavior are pretending this is just the flu; keeping schools open; following through with your holiday travel plans and going into the office daily. This is what we did in Italy. We were so complacent that even when people with coronavirus symptoms started turning up, we wrote each off as a nasty case of the flu. We kept the economy going, pointed fingers at China and urged tourists to keep traveling. And the majority of us told ourselves and each other: this isn't so bad. We're young, we're fit, we'll be fine even if we catch it.

Fast-forward two months, and we are drowning. Statistically speaking—judging by the curve in China—we are not even at the peak yet, but our fatality rate is at over 6 percent, double the known global average.

Put aside statistics. Here is how it looks in practice. Most of my childhood friends are now doctors working in north Italy. In Milan, in Bergamo, in Padua, they are having to choose between intubating a 40-year-old with two kids, a 40-year old who is fit and healthy with no co-morbidities, and a 60-year-old with high blood pressure, because they don't have enough beds. In the hallway, meanwhile, there are another 15 people waiting who are already hardly breathing and need oxygen.

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The army is trying to bring some of them to other regions with helicopters but it's not enough: the flow is just too much, too many people are getting sick at the same time.

We are still awaiting the peak of the epidemic in Europe: probably early April for Italy, mid-April for Germany and Switzerland, somewhere around that time for the UK. In the U.S., the infection has only just begun.

But until we're past the peak, the only solution is to impose social restrictions.

And if your government is hesitating, these restrictions are up to you. Stay put. Do not travel. Cancel that family reunion, the promotion party and the big night out. This really sucks, but these are special times. Don't take risks. Do not go to places where you are more than 20 people in the same room. It's not safe and it's not worth it.

But why the urgency, if most people survive?

Here's why: Fatality is the wrong yardstick. Catching the virus can mess up your life in many, many more ways than just straight-up killing you. "We are all young"—okay. "Even if we get the bug, we will survive"—fantastic. How about needing four months of physical therapy before you even feel human again. Or getting scar tissue in your lungs and having your activity level restricted for the rest of your life. Not to mention having every chance of catching another bug in hospital, while you're being treated or waiting to get checked with an immune system distracted even by the false alarm of the ordinary flu. No travel for leisure or business is worth this risk.

Now, odds are, you might catch coronavirus and might not even get symptoms. Great. Good for you. Very bad for everyone else, from your own grandparents to the random older person who got on the subway train a stop or two after you got off. You're fine, you're barely even sneezing or coughing, but you're walking around and you kill a couple of old ladies without even knowing it. Is that fair? You tell me.

My personal as well as professional view: we all have a duty to stay put, except for very special reasons, like, you go to work because you work in healthcare, or you have to save a life and bring someone to the hospital, or go out to shop for food so you can survive. But when we get to this stage of a pandemic, it's really important not to spread the bug. The only thing that helps is social restriction. Ideally, the government should issue that instruction and provide a financial fallback—compensate business owners, ease the financial load on everyone as much as possible and reduce the incentive of risking your life or the lives of others just to make ends meet. But if your government or company is slow on the uptake, don't be that person. Take responsibility. For all but essential movement, restrict yourself.

This is epidemiology 101. It really sucks. It is extreme—but luckily, we don't have pandemics of this violence every year. So sit it out. Stay put. Don't travel. It is absolutely not worth it.

It's the civic and moral duty of every person, everywhere, to take part in the global effort to reduce this threat to humanity. To postpone any movement or travel that are not vitally essential, and to spread the disease as little as possible. Have your fun in June, July, and August when this—hopefully—is over. Stay safe. Good luck.

Posted by Mike
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 11, 2020 at 3:00 pm

For those of you who don't think closing school is necessary, PLEASE watch the following interview video with Scott Gottlieb, Former FDA Commissioner.

Web Link

Posted by hypocrisy
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 11, 2020 at 11:32 pm

Why are undergrads working in faculty labs still allowed to live in the dorms and continue their research? Does working in a faculty lab prevent the spread of COVID-19? Are athletes in spring sports still living on campus? Does playing a sport protect them from COVID-19? Why is social isolation important only when the bottom line isn't threatened?

Posted by Rabbit hutches breed contempt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2020 at 2:31 pm

I think they mean to leave all the urban planners in closely-spaced rabbit hutches so they can show us the utopian ideal of unnecessarily living cheek to jowel. Oh, sorry, I was dreaming there for a moment.

I hope this situations causes everyone to start thinking about the whole rabbit hutch student dorm situation -- is it really necessary to pack students into substandard living conditions all over the country as a kind of horse-hair shirt ritual to prove their worthiness to get a degree?

I was studying for my PHD at Berkeley when the Oakland fire destroyed my home, and we'd made considerable sacrifices to own up there because I couldn't easily move and still study. We were so desperate to get a stable home replaced, we made easy prey for the insurance company and the long and the short of it is that we didn't have a home of our own again for 14 years and will suffer financially the rest of our lives because of it (also b/c I couldn't continue my studies), despite ostensibly "good" insurance. Yet in the midst of that, the vice chair of the department wrote a letter telling me I needed to show that my education was more important than rebuilding my home. That is the way these people think, not that housing is part of supporting people to lead their best lives (think of the droughts in Jane Austen's productivity during all that moving around), especially if health is an issue, but that students have to demonstrate that they can endure substandard living conditions and still produce. Many universities are swimming in money but the housing circumstances of students are appalling. If they worked on that, no one would have to be sent home.

Posted by to rabbit hutches
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 12, 2020 at 8:00 pm

This is a topic for another thread, but in response to your post I do note that the new grad student apt complexes Stanford is currently constructing strike me as really depressing way to house large numbers of single grad in high-density conditions.

Posted by dangerous situation
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 22, 2020 at 4:34 pm

Having multiple Stanford students who test positive for covid-19 sheltering-in-place in their dorm rooms and other uninfected students living in the same dorms and sharing common facilities is a disaster in the making. Harvard's approach of emptying the dorms was harsh but ultimately safer for the students.

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