Coronavirus update, January 29

public health logoYou have probably seen the news coverage of a new (novel) coronavirus outbreak that was recognized in Wuhan, China, and which is spreading to other locations in China and to more than a dozen countries around the world. As of Tuesday, Jan. 28, there are five cases in the United States, including one in Snohomish County.  All of these cases have been isolated from the public and their close contacts are being monitored by public health authorities to prevent any spread to others.

Since this is a newly emerging virus, there is still much unknown about the severity of the disease and the details about how it spreads. The CDC has determined that the risk to individuals is dependent on exposure to the novel coronavirus. At this time, novel coronavirus is not spreading from person-to-person anywhere in the U.S. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus, the immediate health risk from novel coronavirus is  low at this time. This situation could change, and the CDC, Washington State Department of Health, and Public Health are following the situation closely.

It’s normal to feel concern about health and safety during events like the current coronavirus outbreak. Informing yourself with the accurate information can help relieve anxiety.  Public Health is tracking information about the evolving outbreak from Centers of Disease Control (CDC), WHO and other sources. You can find the latest information on the Public Health website and Public Health Insider blog, as well as at the CDC and the Washington state Department of Health.

Many of us are also concerned about what the people in our communities may be experiencing, including possible stigmatization or discrimination based on racial bias or appearances. Please help others understand that the risk of coronavirus is not at all connected with ethnicity or nationality. Stigma doesn’t fight the illness and will hurt innocent people, but sharing accurate information during a time of heightened concern is one of the best things we can do to keep rumor and misinformation from spreading.