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A message on the novel coronavirus from WVU Medicine Chief Operating Officer Ron Pellegrino, MD

Saturday, February 1, 2020

This message is from Ron Pellegrino, MD, chief operating officer, WVU Medicine-WVU Hospitals.

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China has placed a spotlight on the potential global impact of this disease. While the majority of confirmed cases are in China, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) signed a public health emergency declaration yesterday (Jan. 31). Alex Azar, HHS secretary, said the risk to Americans from the coronavirus “remains low, and we are working to keep it that way.” The CDC continues to closely monitor the situation.

Currently, seven cases of 2019-nCoV have been reported in the United States, none in West Virginia or neighboring states. A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals at WVU Medicine are closely monitoring the outbreak and working together to respond as necessary. Our healthcare facility has plans in place to address the care of patients should they present to the hospital, urgent care, or clinic. There will be additional communications around any required screening process or clinical protocol changes, when needed, while we continue to learn more about the disease.

While novel coronavirus has drawn significant attention, please do not overlook the infectious disease concerns that currently pose risks locally and regionally. The 2019-20 flu season has resulted in 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations, and nearly 8,000 deaths, which include 68 pediatric deaths in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates.

For more information on the novel coronavirus, view the most current CDC fact sheet. Since information is rapidly changing, you may also want to visit the CDC website:

A few highlights from the fact sheet:

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new virus that causes respiratory illness in people and can spread from person-to-person although it’s not clear how easily this happens, but it’s likely to occur to some extent.

Right now, the greatest risk of infection is for people in Wuhan or people who have traveled to Wuhan and less so, other parts of China.

Patients with 2019-nCoV have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

To protect yourself and others, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out and/or utilize the expertise of our infection control providers and/or infectious diseases physicians.

Read the article titled "Health officials prepare for coronavirus" that appeared in The Dominion Post on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Thank you,