According to the CDC, as of February 25th, there were fifty-three cases of the novel coronavirus disease (2019-nCoV) in the United States. There have been 2,462 deaths worldwide, most of them in mainland China. No deaths have been reported in the United States. While the risk of contracting the virus continues to be low in the United States, the health department and its public health partners are taking aggressive precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. Early data reveals that older adults and individuals with compromised immune systems and underlying conditions are at a greater risk for the new coronovirus.
While data continues to be limited, virologists agree that those with additional health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and/or kidney function issues are more susceptible regardless of age. However, because older adults are more likely to suffer from these underlying conditions that weaken the body’s ability to function, they are at a higher risk. In fact, the mean age of the first seventeen people that died from the disease was 75-years (48–89 years).
Although the risk for US citizens remains low, health officials are working on preventative measures as well as treatment protocols so the country is prepared should the virus spread. However, better diagnostic tools are required. For example, with flu season at its height, diagnostic tools are needed to differentiate between the flu and the coronavirus. At present, the biggest focus is on addressing travelers returning from places where the disease rate is soaring.
The CDC recommends that individuals:
- Get a flu vaccine and take antivirals if prescribed
- If a healthcare provider, be on the look-out for people that have recently traveled from China and have respiratory symptoms
- If a healthcare provider, follow recommended infection control procedures
- If you have been to China or have been exposed to someone that is sick with CoVid-19 in the last fourteen days, contact your healthcare provider.
Moderna, a US biotech firm has already developed a coronavirus vaccine. But it still needs to undergo clinical trials as well as additional testing and regulatory approval before it can be distributed worldwide.
In the meantime, individuals should practice good hygiene and health practices and follow the news for new developments.