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Michigan health departments say not to panic over coronavirus

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jan 27, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — As the coronavirus continues to make headlines around the world, some people in Mid-Michigan are starting to worry.

However, Michigan health departments and doctors are monitoring the situation and say there is no need to panic.

"There are far more cases of the flu out there and far more reasons to be concerned over getting the flu," said Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Officer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has already sickened at least 13 million Americans this winter, hospitalizing 120,000 people and killing 2,400. The Ingham County Health Department said the flu season hasn't even peaked yet.

"So we should be more concerned about that. They are far more likely to get that, they are far more likely to die from the flu," Vail said.

Which begs the question, why aren't Americans as concerned over the flu.

"There are just certain reasons that people don't think about it. As soon as it is H1N1, then we have all this hype. Well you know what, that H1N1 flu is still out there, it just became our normal year to year circulating strain," Vail said.

Vail said because this strain of the coronavirus is new and different, and there is no known vaccine for it, that's what is adding to the worldwide fear.

"It's novel and once it's novel and in humans and it starts spreading person to person, it can be more serious and spread more quickly," Vail said.

McLaren is monitoring the current U.S. cases and the one possible case in Michigan but said no specific precautions need to be made in the hospital.

"We are in flu season so we have precautions that we are taking for the flu-type patient, which may represent similar-type symptoms to this so there wouldn't be anything extra right now, just keep doing what we are doing," said Melissa Welch, a nurse practitioner at McLaren. "You want to cover your cough, cough into a tissue and throw that into the garbage, some people are wearing masks. The most important thing is good hand-washing and staying away from people that are sick."

Vail said flu season may be better this year due to the heightened coronavirus concern and more people are taking health precautions. The health department is also recommending that the public get a flu shot during this time since it is peak flu season.

"Wash your hands, cover your mouth, stay home when you are sick, things that people are like 'oh my gosh, I have to do this from getting the coronavirus," will amp up a little activity on the wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home when you are sick front," Vail said.

Test results from the three possible 2019 Novel Coronavirus cases in Michigan came back negative Monday following an announcement from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Macomb and Washtenaw health departments.

The three possible cases investigated here in Michigan included two in Washtenaw County and one in Macomb County.

A fourth possible case has been sent for testing from Washtenaw County to the CDC Monday for testing. Those results are expected to come within the next several days.

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