As coronavirus fears grow, UK students and staff share their opinions


The University of Kentucky announced a $500,000 investment into the campus’s mental health resources on Feb. 21, 2020. Photo by Rick Childress

Emily Girard

With eight cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed in Kentucky, students, faculty and staff have had mixed responses to the recently declared state of emergency. Though many students recognize the disease’s seriousness, many are skeptical of the validity of people’s panic.

“I think it’s important that we’re all cautious about the situation, but I think there’s also a certain degree of fearmongering that isn’t helping the situation,” said junior Bailey Chandler. “I just think…the prices for hand sanitizers going up and…people buying out supplies like toilet paper seems like an overreaction.”

“I agree that it’s being overhyped, but it’s also nice to see all the preventative measures UK has been putting into place,” said sophomore Shelby McCubbin. “You see that there’s now hand sanitizer everywhere and they have signs by the water bottle stations, so I’m glad that they’re trying to communicate more.”

Many students pointed out that other health issues at UK have received less media coverage, such as the flu and mental health. However, most were satisfied with UK’s coverage of the virus. Freshman Emilee Albright said she thought UK was handling the situation “fine.”

“They’re keeping us informed,” she said. “I’m just scared about taking [the virus] home to my grandparents.”

UK has sent multiple emails to students containing updates on the situation. Additionally, on Monday, UK began asking students to fill out a voluntary form notifying campus officials about their travel plans. A 14-day isolation period was also implemented for students returning from countries with heightened travel advisory. 

“I think [the form] will be helpful if we have students going to places that have been affected, but I’m not sure how it will help in the long run,” said Hannah Evans, administrative support associate for the Lewis Honors College.

“It seems like a good idea to make sure…we don’t spread it,” added Chandler.

Overall, though, students have not been concerned about the virus’s effects on their travel plans. Sophomore Rachel Wagers said she was “still going to Florida on a plane.”

“If anything, flights will be cheaper for spring break…because people don’t want to travel,” added sophomore Cole Rainey. “I’m not really worried myself.”

Dr.  Terry Stratton, assistant dean in the College of Medicine, said that most students should not worry about their health.

“Just be educated about it, use common sense, and should persevere fine,” said Stratton. “If you have a suppressed immune system…then maybe it’s something to be wary of, but the average college student…[is] pretty healthy.”