East Alabama medical professionals discuss coronavirus preparations and readiness

East Alabama medical professionals discuss coronavirus preparations and readiness

OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - The East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) provided an update Thursday on how they’re preparing for the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

First, it’s important to remember there are no confirmed cases in Alabama, but there are in Georgia. Doctors predict the virus to eventually spread in East Alabama. So, their advice is to stay educated and wash your hands.

“Just as we drill and plan for weather related disasters, we also plan and train to ensure we are prepared for the spread of communicable situations,” said president and CEO of EAMC Laura Grill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 13 states across the U.S. have seen at least one case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Although there are no confirmed cases in Alabama, medical professionals are preparing.

“This is not an if. We are not treating this as an if, we are treating this as a when," said Dr. Fred Kam with Auburn University’s Medical Clinic.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that we can see a case of COVID-19 in our community anytime," said Dr. Ricardo Maldonado, infectious disease specialist.

Maldonado said COVID-19 presents with cold or flu-like symptoms. He reports only 20 percent of those infected may need hospitalization. The other 80 percent will only experience mild symptoms.

“We all have the responsibility to respond to this epidemic. Every single member of this community should know what to do," Maldonado said. "So, I believe every member of our community can have a role and can have an impact to stop this epidemic or at least control it.”

What role should you play? Wash your hands often, stay home if you’re feeling ill, if you think you have the novel coronavirus, call ahead before showing up to a medical center.

“There’s no need to panic right now. I know it’s very concerning to our community," said Maldonado. "For example, I have seen buying face masks. Face masks will likely not protect you from getting sick with this virus, so stop buying them. Read, educate yourself. We don’t want you to panic and we don’t want you to be oblivious to this situation or ignoring this situation. None of the extremes are good.”

One last thing to remember is not to perpetuate rumors.

The CDC is keeping as much information on its website to keep people informed.

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