The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) continue to closely monitor an outbreak of respiratory illnesses caused by coronavirus (COVID-19) that was first detected in Wuhan, China.
As of Wednesday morning there were 230 confirmed cases - up from 43 Wednesday - in the United States with 17 of those requiring hospitalization and 13 have been fatal.
The CDC said Wednesday that 19 states have reported cases, but Mississippi was not on that list. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina Texas and Tennessee were the only state in the South at this time to have recorded a case of the virus.
Coronavirus cases have now spread from China to many countries around the world. While there is no sustained person-to-person spread in the United States, the CDC and MSDH are working to detect, contain and limit the spread of possible cases in the U.S. and Mississippi should they occur.
MSDH is actively planning with doctors and hospitals on how to respond safely and effectively to any case of COVID-19 in Mississippi.
In a prepared statement the CDC has said people need to be aware the risk of contracting the virus.
“More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States,” the CDC said. “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.”
The CDC went on to say homes, workplaces, schools, local government, churches and anywhere people gather should always take preventative measures to avoid spreading any disease.
The CDC offered these tips to reduce chances of contracting coronavirus:
Practice everyday preventive actions now. Remind everyone in your normal environment of the importance of practicing everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
• Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects daily. Clean surfaces first, using a regular household detergent and water. A list of disinfection products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emerging viral pathogens claims, maintained by the American Chemistry Council Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Productspdf.
• 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 a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
While no one from Clarksdale or Mississippi has been identified with the virus, anyone who thinks they may have been exposed should contact local hospitals or their healthcare professional immediately.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story originally published in the Wed. March 4, Clarksdale Press Register. It is being reposted as a public service to the community.