Hospitals around the U.S. are on high alert as new patients walk through the doors. Health officials from local hospitals say they’re getting alerts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every day about the dynamic disease.
Eisenhower Medical Center said it updated its electronic medical record with a new question: Have you traveled to China in the last 30 days?
A new case of Coronavirus was found in Chicago. A woman in her 60’s returned from Wuhan, China last week.
“I am pleased to report she is clinically doing well and is in stable condition,” Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of Chicago Dept. of Public Health, said.
Health officials are monitoring her contacts as well as those of the first patient in Seattle.
“So they’re following these people who have been exposed or who have come from china for at least 14 days for symptoms,” Michael Conners, an infection preventionist for Eisenhower Medical Center, said.
Eisenhower, along with other hospitals, are constantly learning how the new Coronavirus works.
“The virus spreads through the air, not so much touch to touch,” Conners said. “So if you touch the virus on the surface you would have to then touch your face, bring it up to your mouth.”
The virus, stopping short of global health emergency, according to the World Health Organization.
“At this point they’re not sure how easily it transmits from person to person,” Conners said.
Coronavirus has killed at least 26 and sickened more than 800. At least 50 possible cases in the U.S. are under investigation.
The CDC is advising against non-essential travel there and urging travelers to the country to take precautions.
“Every time we do step out, we come back, we make sure we change our clothes and take a shower,” Ken Zurek, a traveler in China, said.
Screenings continue at U.S. airports but health experts admit infected travelers not yet feeling ill could slip by. States are reviewing infectious-disease procedures.
“We have extensive plans in place for pandemic situations and would work with public health and CDC if it became that serious,” Conners said. “But yes, I believe the resources are available within the state, within the hospital, to handle the situation.”
Meanwhile, the CDC is rushing to get rapid test kits to local health departments. Tests have come back negative on at least 11 people.
They advise anyone who’s feeling ill, and has recently returned from Wuhan or has had contact with someone who has, to call ahead to their doctor’s office so appropriate precautions can be taken.