GREENVILLE, Ill. - As health officials across the globe continue to investigate the coronavirus, more cases are confirmed here in the US. One Illinois university is doing what it can to stand behind international students as their families back home deal with the dangers.
Greenville University is a very small campus, but they are offering a lot of accommodations for around 30 students from China, and around 100 from other countries who are concerned.
Fifteen cases of the are virus now confirmed in the United States. Over in China, there are more than 51,000 confirmed cases in the epicenter. The death toll from the virus in China now hovers over 1,400.
“This all happened all of a sudden, and we were not prepared,” said Liang Ge, a former student and international affairs employee. “We learned that coronavirus is truly threatening the families.”
Though Illinois health officials report there is a low risk of contracting the virus in the state, at least 34 international students at Greenville University are not without worry.
Thousands of miles away, their families are affected.
“We need to do something,” Ge said. “We have a decent student population from that area and we cannot just not make sure students are okay.”
“The true problem is that they are truly worried about their family and friends in China so, a good way to address this and help students deal with anxiety is to take action."
“What we’ve done at Greenville University is really try to take a proactive approach,” said Geet Vanaik, Dean of International Affairs.
The university is stepping in to offer support in multiple ways.
The Office of International Affairs said the school is keeping dorms open during spring break for students who can’t go home, offering emotional support, and also sending supplies like masks and medical gowns.
“It is a small private school, so they like to just make sure everyone feels like they are at home. That is 100% what they make it feel like here,” said Mia Bonacorsi, a student.
The CDC says there are many unanswered questions about the virus, but GU says they are passionate about making all students feel like family during this crisis.
GU is calling out to all other universities, especially those with large international student populations, to get on board with offering support and sending supplies to families.