What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus

What is a coronavirus?

It’s been all over the news the past few days, a novel virus (novel meaning new) outbreak has been detected in China and is now presenting in patients throughout the world as a result of travel. This coronavirus, labeled 2019-nCoV, is a new strain of what has been identified within a known category of very common viruses. But what exactly is a coronavirus?

According to MedlinePlus, a coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most people get infected with human coronaviruses at some time in their life. One type of coronavirus that is well known to all of us is the common cold. While most coronaviruses are not dangerous, some types are severe, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2013.


The new strain of the 2019-nCoV virus was recently detected in China, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organizations are just beginning to understand it. 

First, the virus is transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory secretions, however we have not seen this in the United States. It has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days and can present as a very mild illness up to and including severe illness, which can result in death. The virus, first found in Wuhan City, China, has a confirmed case count of 4600+ patients and 106 deaths in China. Five travelers with confirmed cases are currently being treated within the United States, including Washington, Illinois, California, and Arizona states.

Investigations are being conducted in 26 US states, including Ohio, with 73+ patients still being evaluated with testing. The CDC has identified the spread of this virus could be a serious public health threat but with the immediate health risk being low at this time.

According to the Erie County Health Department, the risk to Erie County residents remains low, and no additional precautions or restrictions are recommended at this time. Residents should continue normal activities including school, sporting events, and social engagements. However, it is currently influenza season so standard precautions should be taken such as washing hands, practicing proper cough etiquette (coughing into your elbow), and staying home if you are feeling ill.

People who have traveled to China or have had close contact with someone who has traveled to China AND have fever, cough, and shortness of breath should call their primary care provider or the Erie County Community Health Center (419-626-5623 ext. 174) immediately for more guidance. 

What is Firelands Regional Medical Center doing?

The hospital has a group of leaders who are assigned to monitor the current outbreak situation daily. This group is called the hospital incident command system, which allows us to communicate all information to our staff in real-time as it becomes available.

Recent travel history has been part of our admission assessment for the last several years. Patients with this travel or contact history who present with symptoms including cough, fever, difficulty breathing, etc. (signs of respiratory infection) will be considered at risk for 2019-nCoV. The patient will be asked to mask, sanitize their hands, and will be placed in a negative air pressure room. Staff members will implement STANDARD, CONTACT, DROPLET, and AIRBORNE precautions to render care to the patient, as we continue to support the patient’s health care needs.

The medical center will continue working very closely with the Erie County Health Department to coordinate the processes for reporting and specimen management.

For accurate and up-to-date information on the 2019 novel Coronavirus, visit the Erie County Health Department website at www.eriecohealthohio.com. For additional questions, contact the Erie County Health Commissioner, Peter Schade, at 419-626-5623 ext. 112 or 419-656-2796.

Published on January 29, 2020