Here at HBCU Pulse, we pride ourselves in being the heart of HBCU life. This means that we want to lead productive conversations within our community as well as give our supporters accurate information about the topics and issues of the day. Because of this, we refrained from mentioning the Coronavirus, monitoring what it is and how it affects our HBCUs. Just yesterday, several HBCUs issued statements about the virus in anticipation for students being released for Spring Break. Some northern HBCUs have even cancelled face to face classes indefinitely, opting for online instruction until the first week of April.
This article is to give point-by-point updates on what’s important concerning the Coronavirus without sensationalism. Please check back to this article periodically, as we will provide daily updates on what’s occurring to ensure that everyone is informed.
This is where daily updates will be posted. After new information is given for each day, it will slotted in the various potions of the article and new information will be posted.
Federal Student Loan Repayment Suspended Until September 30
Government Passes $2 Trillion Stimulus Bill, College Students Left Out Of One-Time Payment
Last week, Donald Trump signed off on a Bipartisan relief bill to aid in relief efforts for Americans feeling the economic impact of the COVID-19 spread. The bill promises that set amounts of money will be given to families in an effort to stimulate the economy as America is practicing self distancing and quarantining. However, analysis of the bill shows that full-time college students are not allotted the payout of money that young children and dependent adults are. According to the logistics of the stimulus package: Stimulus checks will be $1,200 per adult – or $2,400 for married couples filing jointly – and an additional $500 per child, subject to income limits.
Because most full-time college students are still considered dependents, they don’t qualify for stimulus checks. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) clarifies, at Pub 501, that a qualifying child meets the following criteria:
- The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
- The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
- The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year (some exceptions apply, including for school and the military).
- The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
- The child must not be filing a joint return for the year (unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid).
Because of these criteria, several college students do not qualify for the stimulus checks. This has caused an outrage amongst several dependent college students who stormed to social media to express their frustration.
I would love to know the reasoning behind this. Why are dependents under 17 receiving $500 while 18-24 year old dependents receive $0? Why would they completely exclude one of the most financially vulnerable populations in this country when they are spending TWO TRILLION DOLLARS?
— Trævis (@twrawson) March 27, 2020
Howard University Gets $13 Million To Aid In Fight Of COVID-19 In DC, Republican Senator Upset
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a Bipartisan relief bill to the House of Representatives totaling $2 trillion to aid in relief efforts surrounding COVID-19. In the package, federally chartered flagship HBCU Howard University was allocated $13 million. Howard University’s Hospital is a facility that is designated to treat COVID-19 patients in the Washington D.C. area.
Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz skimmed through the bipartisan stimulus package bill that passed the Senate on yesterday and saw that $13 million of the $2 trillion agreed to be allocated was going towards Howard and lobbied severe criticism.
$13,000,000 in taxpayer funds could be going to families across the nation struggling to put food on the table in the midst of COVID-19.
Instead, it’s going to Howard University.
Education is important- but a $13 million check to Howard does not belong in COVID-19 relief. pic.twitter.com/uIT6yaTMUo
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 25, 2020
His criticism didn’t take into account that federal charter designated to Howard University in 1867. According to stateuniversity.com:
Only a few years after the Civil War ended, the need also became clear for the establishment of a comprehensive institution of higher education serving the four million freed slaves and several hundred thousand free African Americans in the United States. The initial plan was to establish a theology school–an effort led by members of the First Congregational Society, a prominent Washington, D.C., church. General Oliver O. Howard, at the time the Commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau in the U.S. War Department, was a member of this group and supported the idea. Soon afterwards, the plan was expanded to create a school for both theological training and to train teachers.
These efforts culminated in the signing of the charter for Howard University by President Andrew Johnson in 1867. Although the charter of Howard University indicated the institution was for all individuals, there was no doubt that the intent was to serve freed slaves and other African Americans.
Gaetz was quickly corrected by Senator and Howard Alumnae Kamala Harris.
The bill provides $30 billion to protect students and help schools, colleges and universities combat the coronavirus. This is $13 million.
$13 million = .04% of $30 billion
Why do you take issue with money going to Howard, Congressman? https://t.co/7nyaijShhd
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) March 26, 2020
He was also promptly called out by Washington Post writer Gillian Brockell, who brought up that Howard University hospital is only 2.1 miles away from the capitol.
Howard University has a hospital that has been designated one of DC’s covid-19 treatment facilities. It is located 2.1 miles from Rep. Gaetz’s workplace. pic.twitter.com/6i1ZpaFJ7H
— Gillian Brockell is social distancing (@gbrockell) March 26, 2020
New Research Shows That Coronavirus Can Severely Affect Younger People
Probably one of the more stunning updates of the Coronavirus news is that new research by the CDC shows that younger people can get severely ill by the cornavirus. Reported by The Hill (linked here):
A new CDC analysis of more than 2,400 cases of COVID-19 that have occurred in the United States in the last month shows that between 1 in 7 and 1 in 5 people between the ages of 20 and 44 in the sample of those who are confirmed cases require hospitalization, a level significantly higher than the hospitalization rates for influenza. The true percentage of young people who require hospitalization is likely much less, because many remain asymptomatic.
But younger Americans are contracting the virus at the same rates as those who are older. The initial round of data actually found more people between the ages of 20 and 44 who landed in the hospital than those over the age of 75 who wound up in treatment, even though mortality rates were lower for the younger set.
“Lots of young people are getting hospitalized, a lot more than we’re messaging, and, yes, maybe you don’t die, but living with a damaged lung or damaged organ is not a good outcome,” said Prabhjot Singh, a physician and health systems expert at Mount Sinai Health System and the Icahn School of Medicine.
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Just a few moments ago, we ran across a viral Twitter thread by a young woman that says that she tested positive for COVID-19. Her description of the symptoms that she felt mirrored what’s reported as well as her persistent wait to get the actual testing to see if she was positive for COVID-19. Stay aware and stay safe everyone. This isn’t anything to play with.
Trump says coronavirus crisis could go through July or August
In a press conference on yesterday, Donald Trump said that the social effects of the pandemic could last until July or August.
“They think August, it could be July, could be longer than that,” Trump said, referring to answers he has gotten when consulting public health officials on the timeline.
Per The Hill (linked here) Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, clarified after Trump’s remarks that the guidelines would not necessarily last until the summer months but rather that timeline was one potential trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The guidelines are a 15 day trial guideline to be reconsidering,” Fauci said. “It isn’t that these guidelines are going to be in effect until July. What the president was saying is that the trajectory of the outbreak may go until then.”
Idris Elba Tests Positive For COVID-19
Idris Elba has confirmed that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He shows no symptoms and has been isolated since the diagnosis on yesterday morning. He encouraged people to stay optimistic and practice social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“So far, we’re feeling OK.” Elba said of himself and his family in a video he posted on his Twitter, “Stay positive and don’t freak out.”
You can view the video below on HBCU Pulse IG.TV.
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BREAKING: Howard University & Jackson State report cases of COVID-19, First HBCUs to do so
The Howard University website released a letter from University President Dr. Wayne A.I Frederick that a guest who attended the Howard University Charter Day Dinner has tested positive for the virus. The letter, and important takeaways from the letter (full letter linked here), are below.
Out of an abundance of caution, we are asking all March 7 dinner participants to monitor and report to your doctor if you begin exhibiting flu-like symptoms. The DC Department of Health is investigating the case, locating and counseling relevant contacts in accordance with the latest national guidance and protocols. We are working closely with the department and have been advised that the chances of contracting the virus are low.
The individual has complied with DC Department of Health’s guidance to remain self-isolated. Our direct concern is the recovery and well-being of the affected individual and their loved ones. We will continue to prioritize the most vulnerable among us and do everything we can to safeguard the health and wellness of our university staff, students and surrounding communities.
We have consulted with medical and public-health experts and regrettably, our University leadership has arrived at the conclusion that a return to campus for face-to face instruction will not be possible for the Spring, 2020 semester. To be clear, we are taking the following steps:
We will not return to face-to-face instruction of courses at Howard University for the remainder of the Spring, 2020 semester and courses will continue to transition to remote and online instruction following the scheduled Spring Break. This is an evolution from our earlier statement.
We will close the residence halls on Sunday, March 22 at 11:59 p.m. This is an evolution from our earlier statement. We are working with our various institutional partners in consideration of any pro-rated refunds of room and board charges. Any potential refund amounts will vary based on application of Federal Aid and Title IV guidelines, current unpaid balances and the specific original room and board charges applicable to each student.
Students who left for destinations other than home for spring break should not return to campus, but instead reach out to the Office of Resident Life to schedule a move out of your room at a later time.
Commencement and All-Class Reunions are canceled. On Sunday, the CDC issued recommendations that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States. Although the CDC states that this does not apply to the day to day operations of institutions of higher education, we do not consider commencement a day-to-day operation. Given that Howard’s Commencement activities garner crowds of thousands, and the numerous elders and children regularly in attendance, we will cancel the event to avoid the potential for additional virus spread which would be problematic.
Jackson State University reported that a student tested positive for the Coronavirus. Acting President Thomas Hudson released a statement on their university website on Sunday (full letter linked here).
The university has been made aware that a Jackson State University student has tested positive for the coronavirus. The student is currently isolated at home.
We are working closely with officials from the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) for guidance to ensure the continued safety of our campus community. MSDH has notified individuals who have been in contact with the student. These individuals have been advised of the proper protocol to monitor symptoms.
The health and safety of our students and campus community remain our top priority. We are following the protocols in our response plan to minimize the impact of this disease.
Amid Calls For Refunding For Cancelled Schooling, Davidson College Offers Refunds To Students
Davidson College, alma mater of NBA Star Stephen Curry, has worked on issuing housing refunds for its 1,843 students. This announcement sent waves around the Higher Education community, specifically for HBCU students that have been lobbying for answers as to how students will be accounted for.
Donald Trump Declares National Emergency, Waives Interest On Student Loans, Senate Democrats Introduce Bill To Help Education During Coronavirus Pandemic
At a White House press conference on yesterday, Donald Trump announced that he’s waiving interests on Student Loans. “I am announcing the following emergency actions today: to help our students and their families, I’ve waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies and that will be until further notice,” Trump said during the press conference on Friday.
Many students and alumni around the nation were confused and even experts were divided on how the announcement affects collegiate life.
“Dealing with interest is an important start and I’m glad they recognized the need for action to help borrowers,” Ben Miller, vice president for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, told Yahoo Finance. “But they need to do more to make it easier for borrowers to pause payments, automatically prevent individuals from going delinquent, and immediately stop the seizure of tax refunds, security, and wages for defaulted loans.”
“We support anything that can help ease the challenges students are facing, including relief on their student loans,” NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger said in a statement. “At this time, we don’t have details on what exactly this policy change means for borrowers.”
Experts went to Twitter to weigh in on the announcement.
Waiving student loan interest at this time of crisis is a fine gesture, but I’m skeptical that it will provide much relief. It’s also unclear exactly what this will mean for borrowers.
— Beth Akers (@DrBethAkers) March 13, 2020
Student loan borrowers got slammed in the last recession. Even with deferment and forbearance options, millions were forced into default, destroying their financial futures.
Canceling student debt payments, not just delaying them, must be on the table. https://t.co/8Gq3POji2Y
— Rohit Chopra (@chopraftc) March 13, 2020
More HBCUs Release Statements, Some Cancel Face-To-Face Instruction
Even more HBCUs have issued releases. Some have cancelled classes for the semester such as Alabama State and AUC Schools (Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse School of Medicine). Other’s have extended Spring Break as well as cancelling several events that will be large gatherings.
The NCAA Cancels March Madness & Tournaments For Other Spring Sports, MEAC & SWAC Tournaments Are Cancelled
The sports world was rocked due to the NBA postponing the regular season for the foreseeable future after it was reported that Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert contracted novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Before that announcement, the NCAA announced that they’d take fans out of the process in hope of continuing the March Madness festivities. Now, on yesterday, March Madness (as well as other NCAA Spring Sports) have been cancelled indefinitely.
According to reporting by HBCU Gameday, the SWAC and MEAC have followed suit as well, cancelling the remainder of their tournaments.
The latest. https://t.co/lABTIMQsQd
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) March 12, 2020
Official announcement: MEAC cancelled the basketball tournament. pic.twitter.com/7zpqCT7BVX
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) March 12, 2020
HBCU Gameday also reports that the NFL have cancelled the HBCU Combine due to Coronavirus Outbreak.
We get it.
— HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday) March 13, 2020
Student Government Associations Speak Out Around The Nation
On yesterday, Student Government Association officials at some of our HBCUs spoke out about what was occurring. Texas Southern SGA President Marcus Nash released a statement advising students how to act. Howard University Executive President Taylor Ellison met with University President Dr. Wayne Frederick to discuss next steps. Lincoln University of Pennsylvania SGA Officials issued a release while also teaming up with the Black Activist Coalition. They also released a statement, asking for answers from administration on key issues such as postponement of Spring commencement as well as possible reimbursement of fees. The releases can be viewed below.
In response to the letter, LUPA University President Brenda A. Allen held a forum with students on why things were happening the way that they were as well as a possible refund of money paid for fees now not being used. You can view it on IG.TV.
SGA President David Whitlow, amid the sudden decision to cancel face-to-face interaction for Alabama State University and the push for students to move out, pushed for several actions to happen that ensure that students are accounted for.
https://t.co/hbg6Tu3n32#myasu We hear the frustrations of the student body and are dedicated to advocating for our concerns to be heard & acted upon. As a result, the Student Government Association has created a petition for you to sign & share to have your voices heard.
— David Whitlow⚡️🐶🔌 (@_whitloww) March 13, 2020
#myasu We’re still pushing for students to be able to stay on campus, just like a lot of other schools are doing. According to Dr. Haywood, we should know something by noon. We will keep you updated.
— David Whitlow⚡️🐶🔌 (@_whitloww) March 13, 2020
SGA President at Southern University (Baton Rouge) Donald Dumbar announced that the well-anticipated Springfest has been cancelled.
— The Donald R. Dunbar Jr (@_deesmoove) March 13, 2020
— The Donald R. Dunbar Jr (@_deesmoove) March 13, 2020
What Is The Coronavirus?
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. The first case as first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States.
According to the CDC, there are a total of 647 cases and only 25 deaths within 36 jurisdictions. Within those cases, they are reported to have occurred by:
- Travel-related: 83
- Person-to-person spread: 36
- Unknown/Under Investigation: 528
There are 32 states that are reported to have cases of the virus. These states include cities where HBCUs are located, including:
- North Carolina
- Washington D.C.
HBCUs React To The Coronavirus
These HBCUs are suspending face-to-face academic instruction in favor of online instruction.
- Lincoln University of Pennsylvania
Face-to-face instruction has been cancelled for the rest of the Spring semester with classes being cancelled for the remainder of the week. Students are being required to move out of residential living by Sunday, March 15.
- Maryland HBCUs (Coppin State University, Morgan State University, Bowie State University, University of Maryland at Eastern Shore)
Face-to-face instruction has been cancelled until April 6. Faculty, staff and students are being asked to refrain from travel outside of a 75-mile radius. If travel does occur, the individual must wait 14 days before returning to campus.
- HBCUs that have spoken on the Coronavirus but haven’t cancelled face-to-face classes
These HBCUs have issued releases, created a task force to assess the Coronavirus outbreak as well as posting CDC precautions on their university websites and social media.
- Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
- Texas Southern University
- Shaw University
- Saint Augustine’s University
- Hampton University
- Norfolk State University
- Florida A&M University
- Howard University
Safety Precautions From Coronavirus
Norfolk State released this video speaking about safety tips about handing the Coronavirus