SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the Coronavirus death toll nears 640, many of us in KELOLAND are watching our neighbor to the south.
Planes carrying about 300 Americans from the Chinese city at the epicenter of the outbreak arrived at military bases in California and Texas on Friday. Some of the Americans are expected to go to Nebraska, where they’ll be quarantined in Ashland. Ashland is near Omaha.
So what happens if the spread reaches South Dakota?
First, it’s important to note there are only 12 confirmed cases of Coronavirus in the United States. That’s according to CBS News.
Avera Health infectious disease specialist, Dr. Fares Masannat, says Coronavirus as a whole isn’t new. He points to SARS from the mid-2000s as a type of Coronavirus. Here’s why medical experts are worried. This latest strain is new, and there’s no vaccine or treatment right now. With more than 28,000 people infected worldwide, health leaders are trying to prevent the pandemic from getting worse.
There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the 2019 Coronavirus.
“We don’t know how contagious it is. We know there is a human to human spread,” Masannat said.
Masannat says there are no suspected or confirmed cases in South Dakota. However, he says he wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point, we get a suspected case in the state.
“The majority of cases in the U.S. that were suspected to have Coronavirus, only a small percentage of those tested positive for Coronavirus,” Masannat said.
Masannat is getting updates from the CDC. Nebraska’s quarantine sight is only a few hours away from parts of South Dakota. Masannat says if the disease were to spread here, local hospitals are equipped for quarantines and work with the state health department to have a plan.
“The patient has to be isolated and all of the surrounding people who were in contact with them has to be observed and tested,” Masannat said.
Right now, Masannat says, here, influenza is a much bigger risk to worry about than Coronavirus.
“I don’t think it’s time to panic about it. We are still learning about it,” Masannat said.
Symptoms are similar to a cold. Masannat says medical staff ask patients if they’ve recently traveled to China. We also asked Sanford Health about the Coronavirus.
“Sanford Health puts the safety of our patients, staff and visitors first. All patients are being screened for recent travel history and symptoms. If that screening indicates the potential for novel Coronavirus, the patient is isolated and staff members take the appropriate precautions. Sanford will then offer appropriate care for the patient while notifying the proper agencies, as identified by the CDC,” a spokesperson for Sanford said.