by Sebastian Squire
On February 5, 2020, the New York Times reported that 490 people died as a result of the coronavirus, a deadly new virus. The same source stated that coronavirus afflicted over 24,324 people, most in the Hubei province of China. A fish market in Wuhan, a major Chinese industrial city, is the source of the virus. While most cases are in China, there are confirmed cases in such countries as Canada, Russia, India, France, Spain, and the United States, among others.
The Bay Area, with its relatively close geographic location to the epicenter of the pandemic and abundance of airports, is on the frontlines of such a pandemic. A representative from San Francisco International Airport explained the extra precautions the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) took: “[the] (CDC) continue[s] to conduct health screenings for international arriving passengers at SFO to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus. The CDC has been conducting these screenings at SFO since January 18th.” One of the more controversial decisions by the United States has been to decrease, and in some cases limit, the arrival of non-citizens from China to the United States. The SFO representatives states, “Airlines are also reducing or suspending flights to/from mainland China. At present, more than 68% of all flights between SFO and China, including Hong Kong, have been suspended.”
While unlikely, healthcare professionals take the threat of a possible pandemic very seriously. Kaiser Permanente said “Staff at all our medical centers regularly drill using various disaster scenarios, including detection of infectious disease, and have been advised about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols to be used with the coronavirus,” in a statement given to The Page. They also emphasized the lack of infection in the local population saying, “[We] want to reiterate that we do not have any confirmed coronavirus cases at Kaiser Permanente, as of now.”
Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine for Coronavirus at this time, but individuals can take steps to minimize the risk of infection. Acalanes Union High School District superintendent Dr. John Nickerson explained some in a recent statement: “Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your cough or sneeze with an elbow or tissue. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.” Las Lomas Nurse Kathleen Mooney echoed his recommendations: “I cannot stress handwashing enough, as well as the other preventive measures mentioned above by Dr. Nickerson.” However, as Kaiser concluded: “the likelihood of someone in this country getting sick with this virus is very low.”