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Health officials prep for coronavirus

02/27/2020 1:38 PM | Anonymous

February 27 - Wisconsin Health News

State health officials are preparing in case coronavirus spreads in the state.

The state has investigated 17 people for coronavirus, with 16 testing negative and one confirmed case.

The immediate health risk remains low, Chuck Warzecha, Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health deputy administrator, said in a Wednesday press call. 

“We don’t believe it’s spreading currently,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, a DHS chief medical officer. “But our efforts are really increasingly focused on, ‘How can we prepare for the eventuality that it will in the future?'”

Jeff Phillips, director of the DHS Office of Preparedness and Emergency Health Care, said they’re working with the Centers for Disease Control to understand surges of medical use and supplies. They’re doing outreach to ensure healthcare providers can handle outbreaks. 

The agency is also working with CDC to conserve respirators to make the supplies last longer. And they're looking at whether telehealth can be used to direct people to the right level of care and to treat people remotely. 

They’re also looking to release guidance to help ensure that the public and private sectors can operate in case of an outbreak with telework, flexible leave policies and information on how to respond properly when an employee gets sick. 

And they’re looking at guidance for schools, daycares and colleges as well as universities to help them plan and prepare for pandemics. They’re working to educate the public on non-pharmaceutical ways to stop the spread of coronavirus. 

Westergaard said that coronavirus appears similar to the seasonal flu in terms of transmission, a 10 percent hospitalization rate and a less than 1 percent mortality rate.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus, which leaves fewer options for preventing the disease, Warzecha said. 
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