COLORADO SPRINGS — Southern Colorado health leaders are putting in place proactive strategies to prevent any risk of the coronavirus making its way to the area. “Our radar goes up,” said Penrose Saint Francis Hospital, Director of Emergency Services, Michele Hobbs.
The coronavirus originated in China. In just over a month there are more than 20 thousand cases and 425 deaths in China. In the United States there are close to a dozen cases among people who recently traveled to China.
"What the public needs to know is we're a very low risk area," said Penrose Saint Francis, Infection Preventionist, Joan Strauch. The risk is lower, but health leaders want to be ahead of the disease, rather than reacting, if by some chance the virus shows up locally.
Symptoms for coronavirus are similar other respiratory infections like the flu. It requires lab tests to determine which, if any is making a patient sick.
So the process of figuring it out starts with prevention steps at the hospital entrance "If you come in with a respiratory illness we're going to give you a mask, we're going to ask you to wear that and then we're going to ask more questions to dive into the coronavirus aspect," said Hobbs
Questions about travel are important and people you have been in contact with are important. “If you haven't been to China, you don't know anybody that’s been to China, you don't have the coronavirus,” said Strauch, “You probably have the flu or RSV."
There are currently no cases in the Pikes Peak Region. The greater concern locally, remains the flu. It is in the area and spreading.
Whether flu or coronavirus, the best prevention is regular hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough, and staying home when you are sick.