What NW Iowans Should Know About the Novel Coronavirus

posted on Monday, February 17, 2020 in COVID-19

Recently, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that two persons were being tested for 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iowa. Both patients tested negative for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Currently, IDPH will post statewide numbers of persons being monitored, persons being tested, and confirmed cases on the IDPH webpage.  https://idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus

Imported cases of COVID-19 infection, which is what the World Health Organization is calling this virus, have been detected in the U.S. While person-to-person spread among close contacts has been detected with this virus, at this time this virus is not currently spreading in the United States.

“The emergence of a new virus that can infect humans is always a serious public health concern. This is the kind of issue that we prepare to respond to and we are working closely with the state and following federal guidance,” said DeeAnn Vaage, Spencer Hospital Infection Control Nurse.

As part of protocol, Spencer Hospital will ask patients who present to the emergency department or registration office, if they have recently traveled to China or have recently been exposed to anyone who has the 2019 novel coronavirus. Masks are available at registration and supply kits are ready for use in the ED for a patient that meets the 2019 novel coronavirus screening criteria.

“The risk to the general public remains low at this time,” Vaage said. “Right now influenza is a much more significant threat to Iowans. The CDC does not recommend facemasks for the general public.”

What is 2019novel coronavirus?

The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person to person. This virus was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Can people in the U.S. get COVID-19?

The 2019-nCoV is spreading from person to person in China and limited spread among close contacts has been detected in some countries outside China, including the United States. At this time, however, this virus is NOT currently spreading in communities in the United States. Right now, the greatest risk of infection is for people in China or people who have traveled to China. Risk of infection is dependent on exposure. Close contacts of people who are infected are at greater risk of exposure, for example health care workers and close contacts of people who are infected with COVID-19. CDC continues to closely monitor the situation.

Have there been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.?

Yes. The first infection with COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of infection with COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

How does COVID-19 spread?

This virus probably originally emerged from an animal source but now seems to be spreading from person to person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Many patients develop pneumonia in both lungs.

How can I help protect myself?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitzer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I recently traveled to China and got sick?

If you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care. Call the office of your health care provider before you go and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

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