President Trump announced on Wednesday he is appointing Vice President Mike Pence to head a task force to confront a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
As President Trump said, "The risk to the American people remains very low" since the common flu virus is far deadlier than the coronavirus outside of Asia.
The typical flu virus kills an average of 40,000 people a year in the U.S. There are no coronavirus deaths in the U.S.
"We're ready. We're ready for anything," Pence said. "We're all in this together. This is not the time for partisanship. This president will always put the health and safety of America first."
The Coronavirus (known as COVID-19) has not yet hit the U.S. as hard as it has hit Asian countries.
So far, there are 60 confirmed cases in the U.S. and no deaths.
The coronavirus enters the body by attaching to ACE2 receptors. ACE2 (Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) is an enzyme that is expressed predominantly in the heart, kidneys and testicles.
East Asians and Caucasian men have more ACE2 enzyme receptors and are more at risk for Coronavirus infections.
The risk of infection is lower for Black people of African descent, women and white Europeans.
According to health experts the coronavirus is highly contagious and can enter the body through the mucous membranes of the eyes as well as inhaled into the lungs.
Mucous membranes lines various openings of the body including the eyes, inner nose, inner ears, inner lips, mouth, vagina, urethral opening and the anus.
Unlike our skin, mucous membranes are porous and allows the passage of gas, liquid or microscopic viruses into the bloodstream.
The coronavirus is smaller than the HIV virus, which means COVID-19 can easily enter the body through openings such as the eyes, mouth and nasal passages.
When treating patients infected with COVID-19, medical personnel must wear face masks and eye protection shields (such as this one) to protect against the virus entering the body through the eyes, mouth and nose.
If you think you have been infected with Coronavirus, the CDC advises you to stay home to prevent spreading the virus. Wash your hands frequently, and drink plenty of fluids.
Piedmont's WellStreet Urgent Care Clinics in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs sent out a newsletter to educate patients about the coronavirus.
The following are excerpts from the newsletter:
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus infection?
The symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. However, many infected people will have rather mild symptoms, like a sore throat. While it is unclear why some people deteriorate, most of those infected with Coronavirus recover fully after a mild illness.
How is Coronavirus spread?
The virus spreads through contact with another infected person. It may take 2-14 days for someone to become ill after being exposed to the Coronavirus. This time frame is called the incubation period. As you may already know, while there are sporadic cases in many countries throughout the world, the vast majority of infections remain in China. For that reason, if you have NOT traveled to China within the past 14 days or been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus infection, you are highly unlikely to have the disease.
What should I do if I get a fever and cough?
While things can certainly change, for now, you are far more likely to have influenza or another type of respiratory infection. At Piedmont Urgent Care, we can evaluate and test for flu and other infections. There are treatments available that can help shorten the duration of flu and reduce symptoms. And if needed, we can check for pneumonia with a chest x-ray.