CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The risk of getting the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or the Wuhan coronavirus, remained “low” in West Virginia as the month of February closed.
On a national level, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were expanding testing guidelines for COVID-19 to include anyone with flu-like symptoms who recently traveled to China along with South Korea, Italy, Japan and Iran.
Most of the cases, thus far, in the United States had been imported, health officials said.
A note of warning, though, came from Dr. Christopher Braden, deputy director for the CDC’s National Center for Emerging Diseases, about what was called “an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.”
“We, as a country, as our communities, do need to start to prepare for the fact that we’re going to see community transmission in the United States,” Braden said.
Earlier this week, Dr. Cathy Slemp, West Virginia state health officer and commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health in the state Department of Health and Human Resources, said those preparations for multiple possibilities were already well underway in the Mountain State.
In Braxton County, Sissy Price, nursing director and administrator for the Braxton County Health Department, said they were providing information about illness prevention to residents while remaining in contact with other state, county and local officials about the possible threat.
The Braxton County Health Department serves 14,000 residents.
“Most of our population is 65 and older, so most of the calls and concerns I get and my staff get are (about) how is the COVID, or the coronavirus 2019, spread,” Price said.
“We share facts and not fear.”
In other countries, COVID-19 has largely spread through person-to-person contact but, in some instances, there has been community spread, meaning infections in people who were not sure how or where they became infected.
As of Friday morning, the CDC has confirmed one unknown source case in California.
“Provide yourself with enough knowledge and scientific-based knowledge (about COVID-19),” said Price.
She recommended CDC.gov and local health departments for accurate information currently and during any potential future outbreaks.
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