JANUARY 30, 2020

OTTUMWA, Iowa  ̶ With America’s sixth case of the Wuhan coronavirus being reported as the country’s first person-to-person transmission, Mariannette Miller-Meeks encouraged Iowans to begin to take measures to protect their health and the health of others.

“This strain of coronavirus started in China and remains most intense there, but it has spread to the United States and there’s no reason to assume that it cannot or will not reach Iowa at some point,” said Miller-Meeks, a former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Miller-Meeks expressed her concerns today as the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency” and the sixth case of the deadly infection was announced in the United States. The number of people infected by the Wuhan coronavirus has soared above 8,000 as Chinese officials announced more than 1,900 new cases today. It has already surpassed the number of people affected by the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak and new cases also have been confirmed in Europe, Canada, southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Experts indicate that it will take months to develop, test, mass-produce and distribute a vaccine.

“To some people, the Wuhan coronavirus may seem like a distant event that will never affect them. To others, it’s a frightening threat of epic proportion,” Miller-Meeks said. “As a health care professional, I know that it’s important to keep things in perspective. The coronavirus will continue to spread but U.S. public health officials are on the case.”

She continued, “In the meantime, we need to take the kind of action that we normally take during cold and flu season, only with greater diligence. Follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines to help stop the spread of germs. CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often with soap and water. I Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way. If you’re sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, such as door knobs and cell phones, that may be contaminated with germs.”