UAB preparing for potential of coronavirus outbreak in U.S.

How to prepare for the coronavirus

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - U.S. health officials now say a coronavirus outbreak could happen in the U.S. They say it’s not a matter of if, but when. Doctors at UAB say you should take precautions.

"Things to be aware of are pretty much to keep yourself as healthy as possible and remember it’s not to panic. Make sure you take good care of yourself,” Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, UAB Director of Infectious Diseases said.

Much like we would do to avoid the flu.

"If you are around sick people, maybe try not to be so close to them as usual and try to keep people as separate as possible and wash your hands as frequently as you can,” Marrazzo said.

The virus may make you feel like you have the common cold. The CDC says symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. While experts believe the immediate threat to the public is low for now, it doesn’t mean you need to let your guard down. If you feel sick, get checked out.

UAB is even running simulation drills to prepare for the possibility of coronavirus patients.

"We even go through and say well if this patient is here then what should we do after that. How do we clean the rooms? How do we test? All those questions we’re going through that in a very systematic way,” Dr. Rachael Lee, a UAB Epidemiologist said.

There is no vaccine for the coronavirus. UAB is working on one, but it could take a year before it’s ready to use.

Health officials also said the coronavirus could trigger a global pandemic. The CDC is telling hospitals to open up their pandemic plans. UAB tells us it’s ready. We asked doctors if you should have a pandemic plan. They say it doesn’t hurt to prepare much like all of us do when there’s a severe weather threat.

"Make sure they have a number of good supplies at home, make sure you have a lot of water, hydration and some backup food, batteries - that type of stuff. I think about this as preparing for a storm. Just if you are going to prepare for a week long winter snow storm, what would you want to have and be sure you’re going to be safe,” Marrazzo said.

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