Gabel addresses lawmakers on U’s plans for coronavirus

In a hearing Tuesday, Gabel said the University will suspend all nonessential travel beginning on March 16.

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel addresses the Minnesota Senate on the University's plans to contend with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 10.

Parker Johnson

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel addresses the Minnesota Senate on the University’s plans to contend with COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 10.

Mohamed Ibrahim

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel briefed Senate Higher Education Committee members Tuesday afternoon on the University’s preparation and response to COVID-19.

In response to the coronavirus, which has spread to a growing number of people in Minnesota, the University will suspend all university-funded nonessential travel for University community members beginning Monday, March 16. The travel restrictions begin as students return from spring break and will remain until April 30, pending further developments in the spread of the disease. The restrictions won’t affect sports teams’ ability to travel to competitions, according to University spokesperson Lacey Nygard.

“We don’t have any reason to believe that it has a fundamental difference on prevention,” Gabel said. “But the more we can delay its arrival here by limiting travel, we want to be contributors to that.”

The University has also formed an emergency management committee, chaired by Gabel, to determine necessary changes to University policy and practices, and tasked departments, colleges and campuses throughout the University system to prepare their own unique response plans. 

The University has also suspended all study abroad programs in countries designated a level three travel advisory by the Centers for Disease Control.

“There’s no higher priority for me or anyone at the University than the health and safety of our community,” Gabel said at the meeting. “And I want to assure you that the University of Minnesota is working around the clock to manage this challenge.”