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University of Tennessee suspends in-person classes

Associated Press • Mar 11, 2020 at 9:35 PM

The University of Tennessee announced Wednesday that it would temporarily suspend all in-person classes as the state’s cases of new coronavirus rose to nine.

The university’s campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin, and its Health Science Center in Memphis, were moving courses online as a response to the coronavirus outbreak, university officials said in a news release.

In-person classes at the Chattanooga campus will be suspended until March 30. In Knoxville and Martin, they will be suspended until April 3, officials said.

The medical school in Memphis will offer all face-to-face lecture classes remotely, while clinical rotations in hospitals will continue as usual, officials said.

The UT system enrolls about 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students statewide, according to its website. Spring break starts next week.

“While we do not want to create undue anxiety on our campuses, we firmly believe that suspending our in-person classes is a prudent and important measure to take,” said Randy Boyd, interim president of the university system.

In Nashville, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center health care worker tested positive for the coronavirus, the university said it had learned Wednesday.

Vanderbilt has canceled classes for this week and suspended in-person classes for the rest of the semester. Online and alternative learning will launch Monday for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Undergraduate residential students should make plans to move out by Sunday, the school said in a statement on its website.

Rhodes College in Memphis also suspended in-person classes and moved to a remote learning plan Wednesday.

Dozens of people remained quarantined or were under self-monitoring Wednesday as the Tennessee Department of Health added two cases to its list of patients with the virus, which has sickened more than 1,000 people and killed 33 in the U.S.

Five cases have been confirmed in Williamson County, two in Davidson County, and one each in Shelby and Sullivan counties, the department said on its website.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.

In the Memphis area, about 80 people were under quarantine or were monitoring themselves after contacting health officials, Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter said at a news conference Wednesday.

Haushalter said she did not know how many patients had been tested in the county. Tests are analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state health department and private labs, she said.

The Shelby County patient traveled out of state but not out of the country, officials have said. Haushalter declined to release the location of the patient’s travel, but she did say the health department does not know of other coronavirus cases in the community where the patient went.

One school employee who had come into contact with the Shelby County patient has been released from quarantine, superintendent Joris Ray said at the news conference.

In Nashville, Belmont University said it had extended its current spring break as a precaution.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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