UO professors write letter from Italy amid rising coronavirus cases

The educators wrote the letter to urge the campus to take further action.

Posted: Mar 11, 2020 7:21 PM
Updated: Mar 11, 2020 7:55 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Three University of Oregon professors have written a letter calling for the university to act and take greater and quicker steps with the growing number of COVID-19 cases across the world.

Melissa Graboyes, Alfredo Burlando and Eleonora Redaelli are working in Northern Italy and addressed the letter to André Le Duc, the university's chief resilience officer, and the UO community.

KEZI 9 News spoke to Graboyes, who is on research leave in Italy while she writes her book about malaria in Africa.

“There’s no time to wait because one of the key factors that's hindering the state of Oregon’s response is that there’s not appropriate testing protocols in place,” Graboyes said.

Graboyes said that those who appear to be healthy could still put others at risk because many do not know they are infected. She described this as an emergency situation.

The letter, which was sent on Tuesday, called for three main changes to be made. The first was to immediately implement online classes for the university community. The second was to suspend all university-related travel. Lastly, the letter urged that large gatherings and meetings at the university should be canceled.

UO announced Wednesday afternoon that the first three weeks of the spring term will be conducted online, along with final exams to be offered remotely. In addition, gatherings of over 50 are canceled.


“In Italy we went from, in the last 2 weeks, 11 towns being quarantined to 11 million people being quarantined," Graboyes said. "Then it led to an entire country being put on lockdown. That’s unprecedented in modern history -- modern global health history.”

She said that with an epidemic such as this, there is no time to wait.

“Oregon might feel far away from what’s happening in other parts of the globe right now, but they should be ready,” Graboyes said. “That doesn't mean being panicked, that means being prepared.”

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