By Natalie Anderson
At a press conference held Thursday morning at East Alabama Medical Center, officials gathered to provide information for the Auburn-Opelika community in regards to COVID-19, also known as the “Coronavirus.”
COVID-19 is described as a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus is known as a “novel” virus that was first identified last November during an investigation of an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
According to information provided by the hospital, “there are no confirmed cases (at this time) of COVID-19 in the state of Alabama. With Auburn University’s diverse population and local industries with ties to some of the affected countries, EAMC officials are taking the necessary steps to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 presenting itself in our region.”
“Our role as the main provider of healthcare in the area is to ensure we stand ready and prepared in situations that will affect the health and wellness of our community,” said EAMC President and CEO Laura Grill.
Ricardo Maldonado, EAMC’s M.D. of Infectious Disease, encourages individuals to frequently wash their hands with soap and water and/or use hand sanitizer with alcohol.
“There’s no need to panic right now,” Maldonado said.
For those who may experience mild symptoms, Maldonado added those “should be able to just treat it at home like any other influenza or cold.”
Citizens are encouraged to avoid panicking or planning to have to wear face masks, said Fred Kam, M.D. of the Auburn University Medical Clinic.
“There is a reason to go into preparedness mode just as Auburn University and EAMC (have) been doing,” Kam said. “We feel pretty comfortable that when this happens, we will be able to manage this situation if everyone cooperates and coordinates.”
Just like the seasonal flu, it is the elderly, the very young and those who are immunocompromised who are most at risk.
EAMC encourages those who believe they may have come in contact with COVID-19 to call their hotline at 334-528-SICK. For more information, visit cdc.gov/COVID19.