Concerns related to the COVID-19 virus have risen in recent months as President Trump “continues to receive poor marks in response to the coronavirus outbreak,” along with low confidence he can guide the country to recovery, according to a recent poll published by the University’s Polling Institute on Sep. 9.
In response to campus concerns over COVID-19, University President Patrick F. Leahy Ed.D., implemented additional safety procedures including limiting dining services to takeout and socially distanced outdoor seating, moving clubs, organizations, and intramural/recreational activities online, and temporarily closing the University pool, fitness center and restricting athletic team activities to supervised individual and small group training, in an email addressed to the University community.
“To date, we have still not seen evidence of transmission from students to faculty or staff, and based on contact tracing, transmission appears to be limited to student social interactions,” Leahy wrote. “Since the majority of our staff members are already working remotely, there will be no immediate change to staffing levels. If you have questions regarding work schedules, please be in direct contact with your supervisor or area vice president, as usual.”
Most Americans, 55 percent of which, say the coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on their daily lives, according to the poll. Almost half, being 47 percent, of the public say they are very concerned in regards to someone in their family becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. This level of concern has increased from 41 percent in August.
The general public remains cautious about reopening the country in the midst of the pandemic, the poll states. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans are concerned their states are lifting restrictions too quickly, whereas 32 percent are considered their state is not opening quickly enough.
Only 36 percent say the federal government has provided enough support, whereas 57 percent say it has not. 58 percent of Republicans say the federal government has done enough for schools, to 37 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats.
“The federal-state divide is where we see partisanship raise its head. Governors and state officials tend to generate some cross-aisle support, but opinion of the federal government is filtered almost entirely through a partisan lens,” said Murray.
President Leahy has vowed to increase University testing, as appropriate. “Properly worn masks will be required at all times on the campus – indoors and outdoors – except when eating and when sitting in your private residence hall room or in your private office,” Leahy wrote.
Since the majority of the University’s academic delivery is already online, there will be no immediate change to academic delivery as a result of these temporary restrictions, Leahy added. “We will continue discussions with faculty members in the days ahead as we monitor closely the impact of COVID-19 cases on our campus. During this period, computer labs and the Guggenheim Library will remain open and available to students, subject to existing capacity limitations and social distancing guidelines. If modifications to our academic delivery are deemed necessary, we will notify the campus community immediately.”
The University poll touches on a multitude of questions, including asking participants if the country is going in the right direction or has gone down the wrong track in regards to COVID-19. In August, 72 percent of poll participants considered the country to be going down the wrong track, but the number has softened slightly to 66 percent by September.
In relation to how concerned one may be when thinking of someone in their family becoming seriously ill from the Coronavirus outbreak, 47 percent considered themselves very concerned in the month of September, an increase of 6 percent from August.
“It is my sincere hope that these actions will help to slow the spread of infection so that we may all continue to enjoy a safe and healthy fall semester here on campus,” Leahy wrote. “I will continue to keep you informed and share updates, as they become available. I encourage parents and family members to join the Monmouth Family Connection and visit our COVID-19 website for the most current and comprehensive campus information. If you have questions, please feel free to direct them to FallRestart@monmouth.edu. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and flexibility during this challenging time.”
PHOTO TAKEN by Melissa Badamo