News of probable cases prompts varied student reaction

Posted Saturday, May 2, 10:45 p.m.

A day after news broke of two probable cases of swine flu on campus, some students report they are concerned about catching the virus, while others say they are not worried.

Hatchet Video: Reactions
Grace Troxel, a Junior in City Hall

Bryoney McCaslin, a Semester in Washington student in City Hall

Two female students were declared probable cases of swine flu Friday, D.C. and University officials announced at a press conference. Though their test results are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the announcement has attracted local media attention and polarized student responses.

The two students live Thurston Hall, but were moved to a private room in City Hall last week.

Some students from Thurston said they have relocated to hotel rooms. Freshman Jessica Cecere – who lives in Madison Hall, where no potential cases have been reported – also said she was getting a hotel room.

“I’ve seen how contagious the swine flu has been,” Cecere said. “I feel like I was probably in classes with the students infected, so, I left.”

Though most hotels would not comment on whether they had seen GW students checking in since the news broke on Friday night, Rina Portillo, a front-desk agent at the on-campus State Plaza hotel said that check-ins have increased.

“We’ve seen a lot of GW students checking in,” Portillo said.

Clerks at many CVS drugstores near campus reported they are sold out of protective facemasks. Most said the demand for masks has been strong since last Monday.

Other students, including Irina Karmanova, a junior living in City Hall, were less concerned. Karmanova said she saw a University Police Department officer wearing a mask and gloves while checking GWorld cards at the entrance of her residence hall.

“Some are taking it seriously, some not at all,” Karmanova said. “I just think it’s funny CVSes are out of masks and Purells,” she added, referring to the popular hand sanitizer.

Grace Troxel, a junior living in City Hall, said despite the fact that the two girls were isolated in her building, she does not see a cause for concern.

“I think that there’s a lot of hype over nothing,” Troxel said. “I don’t think that what’s going around is any worse than a normal flu.”

Freshman Margaret Kurtz said she thought students should leave Thurston to avoid further spread of the flu, and questioned the University’s decision to not evacuate Thurston Hall, where more than 1,100 freshmen live.

“I decided to leave Thurston because it is a Petri dish of infection.” Kurtz said. “The students in Thurston are being put in a dangerous situation. If GW cared about its students more, the entire building would have been evacuated.”

In a statement sent to students Saturday evening, University President Steven Knapp said the two students have “recovered fully.”

Lauren Hoenemeyer and Amy D’Onofrio contributed to this report.

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