Health professionals say there’s a bigger threat in Hampton Roads – and it’s not the coronavirus

Posted at 10:06 PM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-30 23:25:20-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The World Health Organization's most recent update on the coronavirus is concerning to people across the world - including people right here in Chesapeake.

“Working in the actual shipping industry, we get packages from China. I actually did see a package from Wuhan the other day. A coworker showed it to me and I was like, 'Wow,'” said Jarricke Whittlesey.

A women wearing a protective face mask delivers a leaflet on coronavirus in Wuhan, in Hong Kong, Friday, Jan 24, 2020. China broadened its unprecedented, open-ended lockdowns to encompass around 25 million people Friday to try to contain a deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds, though the measures' potential for success is uncertain. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Whittlesey delivers packages, so he does everything he can do to make sure he stays healthy: “Making sure everything is sanitized at all times and sometimes even wear gloves depending on the package.”

He’s doing all the right things according to health professionals. But they say there is a bigger threat right here in Virginia.

“People are afraid of the coronavirus when they are not afraid of the flu. I mean, there is people out there who have not had immunization for the flu but yet they are concerned about a virus on the other side of the world,” says Lisa Engle.

Engle is the Epidemiologist at the Chesapeake Health Department.

“We have better prevention for the flu but more deaths,” she adds.

In Virginia, she says there have been more than 440 reported deaths related to the flu since the beginning of the season.

“Here we are worried about 170 deaths in the world from this coronavirus,” says Engle.

She says the flu is considered widespread in Virginia and people need to take it seriously.

“Wash your hands. That’s the number one thing because it's droplet-spread, meaning if you are in close contact or someone is talking to you or coughing on you, you can get it that way.”

And get the vaccine as soon as possible. Engle says if you start feeling sick, stay home.

“Keep the kids out. That’s bad, too - people want to send their kids to school. Keep them out,” she adds.

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