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Let’s be cautious without panicking

As the threat of the novel coronavirus heightens, the question turns from if an outbreak will reach America to when, according to health officials.

The CDC reports that the risk of getting coronavirus in the U.S. is low at this point. However, many people remain fearful and anxious about the possibility of an outbreak in the U.S., and rightfully so as more cases are reported in the U.S.

The AP reported Tuesday there have been more than 100 confirmed cases in at least 15 states, with 27 in Washington, where at least nine people have died. The most recent case, in North Carolina, involves someone who returned there by plane after visiting the Seattle-area nursing home where the nine deaths occurred.

While the virus is concerning, proper precautions are being taken in the U.S., and although there is no vaccine, there are steps you can take personally to protect against the virus.

The disease spreads largely just like other more common viruses, like the flu and the common cold.

According to the CDC, the virus spreads from person-to-person between those who come in close contact with one another (within about six feet). It can spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets either land in the mouths or noses of people nearby, are inhaled by others or land on nearby surfaces or objects, which are then touched by others who touch their own nose, mouth or eyes and contract the virus.

Symptoms range in severity and can be fatal. Generally, symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath that can appear as early as two days and as a far as 14 days after exposure. Some patients have also reported having a sore throat.

As with other illnesses, those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe symptoms.

As with other viruses, prevention and treatment hinge on some basic good hygiene practices and quarantining yourself from others when you are ill.

The CDC recommends:

— Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home unless you are seeking medical care, and call ahead if you are planning to visit a doctor’s office. Do not go to work, school or public areas. Avoid public transportation. At home, try to stay in a specific room away from others as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if possible. Continue to sanitize these areas often. Also restrict contact with pets and other animals.

— You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

— Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

— Stay home when you are sick.

— Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

— Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

— Do not wear a facemask if you are well. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of the virus to help prevent spreading the disease. Others who should wear facemasks include health care providers and care givers.

— Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Kentucky has launched kycovid19.ky.gov, where citizens can remain up-to-date on information regarding the virus in Kentucky and even in the U.S.

People are understandably concerned, but should remain calm and cautious.

Basic tools to prevent the spread of other viruses and illnesses can be applied in this case to protect you and your loved ones.

— The Winchester Sun

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