Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can infect humans or animals. Most people become infected with the coronavirus that causes the common cold at some point during their lives. However, three types – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS), and the new SARS-CoV-2 (also known as COVID-19) – can cause severe respiratory infections.
What’s the risk?
The immediate risk is low for the general U.S. population. Most U.S. cases have involved people who had been traveling; however, there have been person-to-person cases spread abroad and in the United States.
Officials from the city, the schools, and the public health department are meeting regularly to monitor the spread of the disease and to prepare for the potential of a pandemic.
What should I do?
Officials recommend that citizens make some preparations, similar to stockpiling what you would have on hand in case of a hurricane: medical records, extra prescription medicine, food for 14 days, cough and cold medicines. Many cases are mild, but some have been severe and caused death.
Also, it is still flu season, and several strains of the flu continue to be active in Virginia. Tips from the Centers for Disease Control for safeguarding against both the flu and the coronavirus include: Staying home when you are sick, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently and cleaning surfaces more frequently.