The city of St. Joseph Health Department is closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. COVID-19 infections have been reported in a growing number of countries, including the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more.
COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person spread has been reported in countries other than China, including in the United States. Person-to-person transmission is not an unexpected progression, and the CDC has been preparing for the virus in the United States. Additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 are likely in the United States and globally, including more person-to-person transmission.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
While the immediate risk to the general American population is believed to be low at this time, there are steps everyone can take in response to this emerging public health threat:
- Currently, flu and respiratory disease are of utmost concern and CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine, taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs, and completing prescribed flu antivirals.
- Healthcare providers serving patients with fever and respiratory symptoms should include travel questions when taking patient history.
- Healthcare providers caring for a confirmed or potential COVID-19 patient should follow recommended infection control procedures and practice diligent self-care.
- If someone believes they have contracted COVID-19 infection, please follow CDC guidance on self-care and reducing the risk of spreading illness to others (website link provided below).
- Those in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 who develop symptoms should be in immediate contact with a healthcare provider, disclosing symptoms and exposure to COVID-19.
- Those who have a legitimate reason to believe they have contracted COVID-19 (have travelled to affected areas or have been in person-to-person contact with someone who has COVID-19) should CALL their healthcare provider for initial guidance. Please do not go out in public or go to a healthcare provider’s office unless directed to do so by a physician.
The city of St. Joseph Health Department is in regular contact with regional healthcare providers, communicable disease and infection control specialists, and emergency preparedness and response personnel. Should concerns develop with regional impact, these partnerships will prove to be an invaluable asset in information sharing and response to protect the public.