The Florida Department of Health is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and respond to an outbreak of respiratory illness by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and which has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named "SARS-CoV-2" and the disease it causes has been named "coronavirus disease 2019" (abbredviated "COVID-19").
While there is still much to learn about the unfolding situations in California, Oregon, Washington, and Florida, preliminary information raises the level of concern about the immediate threat for COVID-19 for certain communities in the United States. The potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high, to the United States and globally. At this time, however, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus. This virus is NOT currently spreading widely in the United States. However, it is important to note that current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the risk assessment will be updated as needed. The Florida Department of Health continues to work closely with it’s local partners to investigate, confirm, contain and report any suspected cases when they occur.
Current risk assessment:
- For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.
- People in communities where ongoing community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported are at elevated though still relatively low risk of exposure.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Close contacts of persons with COVID-19 also are at elevated risk of exposure.
- Travelers returning from affected international locations where community spread is occurring also are at elevated risk of exposure.
What May Happen:
More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in communities in the United States. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur.
Widespread transmission of COVID-19 would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.
How to protect yourself:
Everyone can do their part to help respond to this emerging public health threat.. You may be able to reduce your risk of infection by doing the following:
- take everyday preventative actions to help stop the spread of germs
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- if soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
- if you begin to feel sick, go home as soon as possible
- stay home when you are sick
- avoid close contact with others
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
There are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness will recover on their own. However, you can do some things to relieve your symptoms:
- take pain and fever medications (Caution: do not give Aspirin to children)
- use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
- drink plenty of liquids
- stay home and rest
If you are concerned about your symptoms, you should see your healthcare provider. For more information on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak, symptoms, diagnosis, transmission and prevention, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html