The Centers for Disease Control says local health officials should prepare for the coronavirus to spread.
“We need everybody to be thinking of this and dusting off their pandemic plans if they are a public health department,” says CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.
Right now, the illness hasn’t made its way to Georgia, but the North Central Health District is taking precautions just in case.
DPH spokesman Michael Hokanson says his agency and local hospitals have “pandemic plans” in place for large outbreaks. The plan includes educating the public and medical staff and ensuring they have enough medical supplies and equipment on hand.
“It does not have a vaccine, it does not have a treatment, so right now, the biggest thing is promoting non-pharmaceutical intervention,” says Hokanson.
Hokanson says wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough, take the same precautions you would when it comes to the flu.
At Coliseum Medical Center Emergency Services Director Liana Rogers says when they’ve dealt with situations like this in the past they’ve isolated infected patients to particular wings of the hospital.
“Just like if there was an outbreak of flu, like there was several years ago, we try to keep those patients on one side so that we’re not helping to spread the virus. We want to try and keep that in one area to take care of those patients,” says Rogers.
Rogers says Coliseum Health professionals have been doing a lot of research and having discussions about the coronavirus for months, and if there’s an outbreak, they’re ready.
“So now it’s made the news and everyone is asking a lot of questions, so we’re just here to assure everyone that we’re prepared and ready,” says Rogers.
In case of a widespread outbreak, the State Health Department could recommend closing schools and cancelling large public gatherings.
The Georgia Department of Public Health said the overall risk of coronavirus to the general public remains low, but they are reminding people to prepare just as they would for a hurricane, a flood, or even for the flu.