As more and more cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are being reported in Asia and Europe, health officials here in Colorado and Boulder Valley are closely monitoring the global outbreak.
To date there have been no confirmed cases in Colorado. You can keep tabs on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website.
In an abundance of caution, public health departments across the nation and here in Colorado are making preparations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Boulder County Public Health and Broomfield County Public Health and the Environment have been working closely with hospitals and health care providers to share information and steps they should take to minimize any potential spread of the virus.
What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. These viruses spread through coughing or sneezing, much like the flu.
Some coronaviruses are common and regularly cause illness in the U.S. each fall and winter.
Other coronaviruses like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV have caused outbreaks internationally and have been known to cause severe illness.
Based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time.
What can I do to stay healthy?
Again, the risk to the general public in the U.S. from this virus is considered low, but just as is recommended for other respiratory viruses, people can protect themselves and others by practicing everyday actions:
- Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Feeling Sick? Stay Home!
As always, we are encourage anyone who is feeling ill to stay home, especially if they are experiencing the symptoms listed in our Too Sick For School guidelines. Those who are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath and have visited Wuhan or had close contact with someone who is suspected to be infected with the novel coronavirus in the past 14 days should seek immediate medical attention.
It appears 2019-nCoV originated near Wuhan City in China, before spreading internationally. So far, only five cases have been confirmed in the United States.
Recently the Centers for Disease Control issued Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Persons with Potential 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Exposure in Travel-associated or Community Settings. The new guidance outlines how persons traveling from China starting on 2/2/20 will be handled.
All flights returning from China will be diverted to one of 11 US airports for medical screening.
Persons returning from the Hubei province of China and who are asymptomatic will be maintained in medical quarantine for 14 days (High Risk).
Persons returning from any other area in China will be screened for symptoms and if asymptomatic, will be allowed to continue to their home destination (Medium Risk).
These travelers will be asked to voluntarily home quarantine (no work or school, etc.) for 14 days and monitoring by public health staff will be initiated.
These travelers are considered Medium Risk
Household contacts of asymptomatic persons will have no restrictions - this will change if the traveler becomes symptomatic.
Public Health will notify us of any BVSD-related persons in home quarantine.
This new travel-related guidance is prospective and will not include persons that returned from China before 2/2/20. Because local officials were informed of the new guidance on Friday 1/31 they began monitoring travelers returning then.
Travelers returning home before 1/31 are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms and seek medical attention if symptoms develop.
Suspect cases will be quarantined during the testing protocol (about 24 hrs now).
Confirmed cases would initiate a public health contact investigation.
BVSD remains in close consultation with our partners in public health, as we monitor the situation. Additionally, with new travel restrictions in place, we will be working closely with schools and families returning from travel abroad to ensure that supports are in place.
Special thanks to our partners at Boulder County Public Health for their contribution to this story.
Illness Investigations in Colorado
To date there have been no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in Colorado The media, however, has reported about, a handful of cases that have been investigated in Colorado.
This is absolutely normal. Health care providers are being extra cautious and are looking for symptoms. That's the ideal situation. People at risk will continue to be tested in partnership with the CDC and will notify the public if the risk increases.