NJ, NY Bracing For Possible Coronavirus Outbreak; Lakewood School District Begins Taking Precautions

Public health officials in the tri-state area are beginning to take serious steps towards battling the coronavirus after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned Congressional lawmakers that the spread of the virus in the United States appears to be “inevitable.”

Governor Phil Murphy said that he convened Wednesday with members of his team to discuss coronavirus preparations being taken in the state, including airport screenings and hospital preparedness. Murphy said that his administration is working with federal, state, and local authorities to protect all New Jerseyans from the coronavirus. In New York City, the NYPD handed out thousands of gloves, masks and wipes to their police officers to prepare them for a potential outbreak.

In Lakewood, a letter in English and Spanish was sent out to the parents of students in the school district making them aware of steps being taken to prevent a coronavirus outbreak. According to the letter, Lakewood schools will begin having more hand sanitizing stations in common areas without sinks, and posters will be hung up throughout the buildings to provide information to students and staff about preventing the spread of viruses. Additionally, all classrooms have been provided with spray bottles with an approved cleaning solution to disinfect and kill several viruses including the coronavirus. There will also be staff helping to clean touchpoints, including doorknobs and handles, sink faucets, and surfaces.

Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) said in a statement that the government “cannot afford to underestimate the potential risk to Americans” posed by the coronavirus. “We must bring to bear the full expertise, weight and resources of the federal government to help mitigate the dangers and foster real protection going forward,” Smith said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported over 81,000 cases and 2,800 deaths from coronavirus, with the vast majority of the infections and deaths being contained to mainland China, specifically in Hubei Province, where the coronavirus originated from. But health officials have become increasingly concerned as new cases of the illness are popping up in countries around the globe.

There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with 12 of the cases being in patients who had recently traveled abroad, and another 2 who had been in contact with infected patients. The source of the 15th patient’s infection is currently unknown. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday announced that this 15th case of coronavirus is the first American known to have become ill from the coronavirus despite not having visited a foreign country recently or being in contact with an infected patient. Another 42 Americans tested positive for coronavirus on a cruise ship – the Diamond Princess – that was placed into quarantine in Japan due to a virus outbreak on the vessel.

At a Wednesday evening press conference at the White House, President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the US and downplayed the threat the virus poses, telling Americans that the United States had plans in place to keep the illness from becoming a pandemic. “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low,” Trump said. “We’re ready to adapt and we’re ready to do whatever we have to as the disease spreads, if it spreads.”

Even with strategies in place to tackle outbreaks, the CDC is warning Americans to be prepared for “severe disruptions” to their lives due to the coronavirus. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather a question exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” said Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The coronavirus is relatively deadly; so far it has killed around 3% of the people confirmed to be infected by it. That would make it more deadly than the Spanish Flu, which had a mortality rate of about 2%, and far more deadly than regular influenza. However, some believe that the coronavirus death rate may be much lower in fact, due to many having become infected but never reported it and recovering from the illness without ever seeking medical attention.

Whatever the case, the coronavirus, like the flu, is much more dangerous to people of ill health than those who are relatively healthy. Many of the deaths from coronavirus have been older patients, and medical experts say that very young children may be more susceptible to it as well.

The way to protect yourself from getting the virus is similar to precautions meant to be taken regarding the flu: Wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and stay at home if you’re sick. These simple measures end up making a big difference in the spread of the illness.

Coronavirus 02.26.2020 English
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