The novel coronavirus, first detected in the city of Wuhan located in China's Hubei Province in December, continues to spread throughout China and in other parts of the world.
Community transmissions have been reported in Iran, Italy and South Korea; the latter being added to U of M’s travel restriction list on Tuesday due to a level 3 CDC warning for that area.
“It’s only a matter of time before it gets here," said Dr. Anthony Ognjan with McLaren Macomb Hospital.
Health officials in the U.S. said Tuesday the virus may not be able to be contained at the border, and that Americans should prepare for a "significant disruption."
Like other hospitals in the area, McLaren Macomb is equipped with specialized rooms for patient isolation in the event of a local outbreak.
Currently there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Michigan. Globally, as of Wednesday morning, there were more than 81,000 confirmed cases.
Dr. Ognjan noted that the virus, which in some ways mirrors the flu, can take much longer to detect.
“The problem with this virus, it has a long incubation period of up to two weeks. So you can walk around in your environment shedding the virus for up to two weeks before you become sick," he said, noting that this could mean global numbers are higher than what's being reported.
McClaren Macomb's “negative pressure rooms,” are specifically designed to isolate patients if needed and prevent spreading of pathogens in the air. The hospital has one on each floor.
The DMC also has negative pressure rooms in a specialized unit. It’s something they’ve trained for since the Ebola outbreak.
“The air is not allowed to recirculate inside the room. It is either sent outside or it is sent through... filters," said Dr. Teena Chopra, the director of infection prevention at DMC Harper University Hospital. "And they do this six times an hour," she said.
At Ace Hardware in Beverly Hills, special soft seal masks are flying off the shelves due to concerns over the Coronavirus. The N95 masks are known for their ability to protect against air pathogens if worn correctly.
The masks, previously not an overly popular item, started going quickly over the past week
"We’ve seen a surge in interest," said owner Bill Damman. “And then yesterday one customer comes in and pretty much cleaned us out.”
Damman said on Wednesday he had already received about a dozen calls related to the masks.
And it’s not just the Beverly Hills location running low on them.
“Unfortunately Ace Warehouse is pretty much sold out about two weeks ago and trying to replenish. So we’ve only been selling what we had in stock," he said.