Health officials in the U.S. are preparing for the number of novel coronavirus cases to grow. And while there are no diagnosed cases so far in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, local officials are preparing.
Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Washington, D.C.'s, health director, sat down with News4 to share facts and dispel fictions about the new COVID-19, which first appeared in China and has spread to every continent except Antarctica.
What is D.C. doing to protect residents?
Local governments are on the front lines of protecting residents from infectious disease, Nesbitt says. Since Washington, D.C., and the national capital region don't have confirmed cases at this point, the city is concentrating on informing the public on a containment strategy that would prevent any illness from spreading.
If you feel sick, stay home from work or school, Nesbitt says. Call your health provider ahead of time so you aren't sitting in a waiting room, potentially spreading the virus.
It's also wise to follow that advice you hear every year during flu and cold season: Wash your hands, get a flu shot and cover your cough with your elbow, Nesbitt says.
What are the symptoms?
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those you see with the common cold or the flu, including cough, runny nose and may progress to more serious ones like difficulty breathing.
Who is most at risk?
Anyone can catch a virus, but similar to the cold and flu the symptoms may be more severe in people who have a compromised immune system, a chronic disease or a health issue like asthma.
What are myths to be aware of?
Coronavirus "is more likely to be linked to a travel history than a particular ethnic or racial group," Nesbitt says. Stigma hurts people and communities, and there's no reason to avoid certain neighborhoods or businesses because of COVID-19.