State Offers Coronavirus Tips for Schools and Travelers

No Threat of Coronavirus Currently Found In Minnesota

(Photo from the Center for Disease Control)

By LENNY KOUPAL, CSU Communications Coordinator

You may have heard it said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

That scale is magnified exponentially when it comes to world concern for the coronavirus where – as of Feb. 26 – 81,398 cases have been confirmed in 42 countries resulting in 2,771 deaths. More than 95 percent of the cases originated in China.

This week, the Trump administration sought $2.5 billion to fight the coronavirus and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the nation’s response to the virus.

While the Center for Disease Control currently reports only 14 confirmed U.S. cases of the life-threatening virus, the Minnesota Department of Health offers coronavirus information for schools, said Lori Marti, health educator with Student Health Services at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Another section of the state website offers tips for travelers with questions if you are planning to travel over Spring Break, particularly outside the United States.

As of Feb. 3, persons traveling from China to Minnesota may have restrictions placed on their movement for 14 days after arriving.

The site also states that persons recently arrived from countries other than China do not have any special restrictions or need to seek health care unless they have been identified by public health officials as a contact of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 – the name given to the novel coronavirus by the World Health Organization. 

According to the CDC, the aerosol virus is spread mainly from person-to-person through coughing or sneezing. It is also possible the virus can be spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it on then touching one’s nose or mouth.

Illness from the COVID-19 can range from mild to severe. The elderly or persons with weak immune systems are at greatest risk of complications leading to viral pneumonia responsible for most of the reported deaths.

Coronavirus does not survive very long on surfaces, so evidence indicates there is no risk to such things as receiving shipments from China. Packages would not have viable virus on them or in them.

Marti said that with all contagious illness, prevention includes such things as:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, be sure to throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face – eyes, nose mouth – with your hands. It’s one of the worst ways to spread germs.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.

Marti recommends that students get the flu vaccine. It shows no proven effectiveness against the global pandemic of coronavirus, but it provides another line of defense for general good health.

Current U.S. Status of Coronavirus

This week at a Feb. 26 briefing, Benjamin Haynes with the CDC said the country is preparing for the advancement of the coronavirus.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,
Haynes said. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

At this point, Haynes said there is no vaccine to protect against COVID19. No medications have been approved to treat it.

Awaiting that discovery, common sense should prevail.

Haynes said local conditions will determine the severity of COVID19 in a community by community basis.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told CNN on Wednesday that the CDC doesn’t know what the impact of the virus will be. Community spread could be reasonably mild or very severe.

At the present time, the CDC is recommending non-pharmaceutical intervention, or NPI, to contain the virus at community level. These everyday personal protective measures are the same as those for the common flu.

In academic settings facing severe cases, the CDC said measures could include closing schools and using internet-based teleschooling to continue education.

“These are things that people need to start thinking about now,” Haynes said. “We’re asking folks in every sector as well as people within their families to start planning for this because as we’ve seen from the recent countries that have had community spread when it is hit in those countries, it has moved quite rapidly.  So we want to make sure that the American public is prepared.”

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