Louisiana at low risk for new coronavirus, but doctors are still preparing

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NEW ORLEANS -- WGNO's Teaching Doctor Dr. Rachel Reitan says local hospitals are preparing for the new coronavirus, even though Louisiana is at a low risk for an outbreak.

"The state of Louisiana, right now, is at a low, low, low risk. That's what I want everybody to know," says Dr. Rachel. "It's more just the planning, if the virus were to come to Louisiana."

She says she is getting regular email updates from her hospital, state leaders, and the Centers for Disease Control.

"The government is very, very on top of this," says Dr. Rachel.

There are more than 82,000 cases worldwide of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), with 59 in the United States, according to the World Health Organization.

Louisiana has no reported cases. But, Dr. Rachel says local medical professionals and hospitals are still preparing in case that first coronavirus patient shows up at the emergency room.

No vaccine exists for the new coronavirus. So, prevention is key. Dr. Rachel says avoiding the new coronavirus is similar to avoiding the flu:  washing hands, using hand sanitizer, coughing into your arm or a tissue instead of your hands, and not going to work sick.

Dr. Rachel says if you have a high fever and feel awful, it's a good idea to call your doctor. 

"One of the things that we don't want people doing is coming into the clinic because they have a high fever. Call first," she says. "We have great screening questions that we ask. And, then we will guide you accordingly where to go."

However, if you have a high fever in Louisiana right now, she says it's probably not the new coronavirus, but the flu.


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