Coronavirus: As the infection spreads, how should you react? | March 3, 2020

by Peter Dunford, LSW

It’s hard not to be aware of the Coronavirus right now.  Many people are concerned.  Should you be worried?

The best answer to that question is that you should always take precautions to keep yourself guarded against illness.

The Coronavirus is a strain of the flu and the flu kills tens of thousands of Americans each year.  One of the bigger differences right now between the Coronavirus and seasonal flu is that there are no medications yet for Coronavirus.

The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Because the outbreak of the virus is rapidly changing, please visit the CDC website  for the most current information.

While the CDC considers the spread of the Coronavirus a serious situation and is supporting States in their efforts to take preparedness measures, the immediate risk in the U.S. is currently considered low. The CDC recommends that everyone should practice simple daily precautions to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

When we watch or read the media about Coronavirus it may seem overwhelming to us.  Quarantines being set up, people not allowed to leave cruise ships, protective masks sold out everywhere and people refusing to travel.  It all seems very scary.  These are precautions many places including the CDC have put in place to try to stop the spread of this flu.  We must also be aware that everyone infected may not have major life-threatening symptoms. In fact the biggest spread of the virus has likely come from those with little to no symptoms who spread it to others without knowing they were infected.

During last week’s briefing by members of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, US Health and Human Services Secretary Azar said that, “Although the virus represents a potentially very serious public health threat, and we expect to continue seeing more cases here, the immediate risk to the American public at this time is low.”   CDC Director Dr. Redfield also emphasized the point that the “real threat to the American public is flu” so  wash your hands, cough into your sleeve, don’t touch your face, and “if you have not gotten the flu vaccine, get the flu vaccine.”

For those seeking additional information the following is a short educational video on the 5 Things to Know About COVID-19

1 – New York Times – How does the coronavirus compare to the flu? Denise Grady

2 – NJHSA Affinity Group – Guidance from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Coronavirus