Health officials: Low risk of coronavirus in U.S.

Robert Houk • Jan 31, 2020 at 9:55 AM

The nation’s top public health official said Thursday the United States has little to worry about at this point from the coronavirus.

“The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) believes the risk is low,” Dr. Jerome M. Adams, the U.S. surgeon general, said at a news conference in Johnson City following a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis.

Adams also told reporters that no evidence of human-to-human transmission had been identified at that point in time in the country. Hours later, however, it was reported the CDC had confirmed its first case of the Wuhan coronavirus being spread from person-to-person in Illinois.

The previously unidentified strain of the flu-like coronavirus is part of a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome. At least six cases of the coronavirus have been identified in the United States.

Dr. Lisa Piercey, the commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Health, said the state is monitoring the situation, and suggested Tennesseans have more to worry about from the flu.

“Get your flu shot,” Piercey said.

The surgeon general agreed, adding that steps taken to ward off the flu also prove helpful in preventing the spread of other viruses.

“Clean your hands,” Adams said. “Stay home if you are sick, and cover your mouth when you cough.”

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said the and his colleagues in Congress received a briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday. He said the CDC and other medical experts in the United States are studying the virus and could begin vaccination trials within 90 days.

Roe said he feels “comfortable” the virus can be contained.

China has quarantined more than 50 million people after more than 8,000 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus resulted in more than 171 deaths. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus global health emergency on Thursday. 

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