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US prepares as coronavirus outbreak continues

Posted at 4:53 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 19:59:00-05

(KGTV) -- As authorities in China work quickly to stop the spread of the coronavirus, health officials in the U.S. are preparing for the possibility of an outbreak in this country.

The first U.S. case of the potentially deadly virus was reported in Washington state on Jan. 21. The man in his 30s had traveled to China in November and returned home to Washington on Jan. 15, but he did not display any symptoms upon his arrival.

The Associated Press reported the man is in a Washington hospital but is in good condition and isn’t considered a threat to the public.

In Los Angeles, ABC News reported a passenger that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on a flight from Mexico City on Jan. 22 was hospitalized as a precaution after appearing to be ill. Officials did not confirm what the passenger’s symptoms were or if the person recently traveled to China.

There have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in California as of Jan. 23.

The California Department of Public Health said it is “working closely with CDC to respond to the outbreak of this novel coronavirus.”

Additionally, the department said they are “providing information to local health departments and health care providers across California on how to safely and effectively evaluate ill people who have been to China. The state will continue to monitor the situation, work with partners to identify any possible cases, provide information and consultation to ensure that possible cases are managed safely, support laboratory testing, and implement recommendations from the CDC.”


The outbreak reportedly began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December and is believed to have originated at a city market.

Officials said the virus has sickened more than 800 people in China and has led to the deaths of 25 people as of Jan 23. There have been confirmed cases in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, all from travelers who went to Wuhan.

The outbreak coincides with China’s busiest travel season as people visit their families or go abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday. That travel rush is expected to spread the disease more widely.


Chinese officials have essentially locked down Wuhan, shutting down public transportation and preventing anyone from leaving the city.

Airports in major cities around the world have since been conducting health screenings for passengers who have traveled to China. In the U.S., screenings have been implemented by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, New York’s JFK Airport, Atlanta International Airport, and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.


Common symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever. Shortness of breath, chills and body aches are associated with more dangerous kinds of coronavirus, according to the CDC. In serious cases, the virus can cause pneumonia.

Many coronaviruses can spread through coughing or sneezing, or by touching an infected person. Scientists believe the new virus can spread from person to person in close contact through the respiratory tract.


There is a test to identify the virus, but no vaccine to prevent an infection. Patients with the virus have been isolated in hospitals or homes to prevent spreading it. The symptoms are treated with pain and fever medication, and people are advised to drink plenty of liquids and rest while they recover.

The Associated Press contributed to this report