The coronavirus (known scientifically as COVID-19) has continued to spread beyond the borders of China and has now reached American shores. As of March 3, 2020, cases have been reported in Georgia and several more in states across the nation. As the virus spreads and media attention becomes more frantic, I want to take this opportunity to share information that I have received from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal agencies.
First and foremost, let me be very clear that there is no cause for panic. There are very simple and commonsense preventive measures you can take to protect your family from COVID-19 and other viruses.
· Just as with any contagious illness, avoid close contact with folks who are sick.
· If you become sick yourself, the CDC recommends that you stay home to avoid infecting others.
· Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds.
· Try to avoid touching your face if you haven’t washed your hands recently.
· Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
· Disinfect frequently touched objects or surfaces with regular household cleaning sprays or wipes.
· Stay up to date on your vaccinations as it’s not too late in the season to get a flu shot.
· The CDC does not recommend wearing medical facemasks for healthy people.
President Trump made it clear from the get-go that he is taking the coronavirus threat very seriously and that protecting the American people is his top priority. As early as January 31, 2020, the President declared a public health emergency and implemented restrictions on travel to and from China. Those travel warnings have now been expanded to include Italy and South Korea – two other countries that have emerged as hot spots in the outbreak. Currently, the federal government has suspended the entry of foreign nationals who have visited China and Iran within the past 14 days. The Department of State and CDC are working to safely ensure Americans traveling abroad in virus outbreak regions can swiftly return to the United States. The CDC continues to work with state and local governments and health agencies to monitor quarantined individuals, and test kits have been made available to diagnosis over 75,000 people. Research is being conducted to study the genetic components of the COVID-19 virus, and pharmaceutical companies are working to develop vaccines for the virus as quickly as possible.
As you likely know, coronavirus began in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has since spread to countries across the globe. As of March 3, 2020, more than 92,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and the number of deaths has reached 3,110 globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Information coming out of China is widely considered unreliable, but it has been reported that new diagnosis cases there continue to fall.
Simply put, there is still a great deal that we do not know about the virus. Our current understanding is that the virus spreads mainly from person to person, either by close contact or through respiratory droplets produced by coughs and sneezes. It may be possible that a person can get coronavirus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. Thus far, it appears that the virus’s genetic blueprint appears to be stable and displays no signs of mutating – this is important as the common influenza has been known to mutate into new strands. On March 3, 2020, World Health Organization officials said that the global mortality rate for coronavirus is 3.4% globally – but the death rate is believed to be much lower outside of China. For comparison, the seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.
For more information to stay updated, visit the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization coronavirus websites.