Coronavirus Currently Presents Low Risk to Mon Valley Region

Officials from Monongahela Valley Hospital and the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania are in daily contact with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). To date, the virus which mimics the symptoms of colds and flu, has presented in 26 countries including the United States. While person-to-person spread of the virus among close contacts has been detected, at this time the virus is not currently spreading in the community in the U.S. Reported illnesses have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to others being severely ill and dying.

"To put this in perspective the CDC monitors seasonal flu illnesses and reports U.S. flu activity weekly. As of January 25, 2020, the CDC estimates that there have been at least 19 million seasonal flu illnesses and 10,000 deaths from the flu. The February 3, 2020 CDC update for the coronavirus reported that there have been 11 confirmed positive novel coronavirus cases and zero deaths in the United States," explained Penny Wright, MVH's manager of Infection Control.

The CDC reports that based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period for this type of virus, symptoms may appear in as few as two days after exposure or as long as 14 days. The symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. People who have other medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at greater risk for developing complications.

"At this time, people who experience symptoms but have not traveled to China should not be worried about the coronavirus," said Mrs. Wright.

Physicians at MVH recommend that if someone is experiencing coronavirus symptoms and have traveled to or been in contact with someone who has traveled to China they should contact their primary care physician.

While the immediate risk of this virus to the public is believed to be low at this time, the CDC encourages everyone do their part to stay healthy. Because it is still the flu and respiratory disease season, the CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine and taking every day preventative actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

For more information on the coronavirus, click here.