Florida needs a plan for disruptions by COVID-19

COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, has made its way to Florida, with 23 cases confirmed Wednesday by the Florida Department of Health.

To control the outbreak, the Florida Board of Governors urged state universities to move to online classes. For USF, this means remote classes will begin March 23 and will continue until at least April 5.

It’s imperative that the Legislature does everything it can to fight this pandemic while also ensuring the response doesn’t hinder Floridians’ economic and educational opportunities.

In reaction to these events, the Florida government has asked travelers coming from countries that have been heavily affected by the coronavirus to self-isolate for at least 14 days.

However, the virus could take a serious economic toll on infected individuals. If a person has coronavirus or is unsure, it can be difficult to quarantine oneself and not go to work.

Other countries hit by the virus have acted to alleviate economic pressures during this time.

Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the virus, has suspended all mortgage payments during the nationwide quarantine.

Florida and other affected communities would be wise to implement similar practices. If an individual is encouraged not to go to work, they are placed in a situation in which they can’t pay rent.

The Legislature needs to offer financial assistance to those who may need to be quarantined and can’t make money. We need to ensure that we protect those affected both physically and economically.

It’s also imperative that this virus does not stand between students and their educational success.

On campus, it’s also critical that USF gives all students the opportunity to succeed during canceled in-person classes. USF will be converting classes to online versions through the first week of April to keep students from gathering in large groups and possibly exposing people to the virus.

For students who do not have a personal computer or internet access at home, we don’t yet know how students will access their classes. However, USF representatives said they are working on finding a solution.

Universities and state governments must work together to help all those affected by this troubling outbreak.

Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.