NORFOLK, Va. - As the coronavirus spreads worldwide, medical professionals in Hampton Roads are stepping up their monitoring efforts.
"We have now implemented a task force across our healthcare system," said RN Mary Morin, Sentara Healthcare's Vice President of Clinical Effectiveness.
This week, Sentara Healthcare stood up a group of senior leaders and subject matter experts to ensure they are doing everything they can to keep employees and patients safe from the outbreak.
"The task force looks at things like, 'Do you have an adequate amount of supplies and equipment to care for patients?'' said Morin
Sentara is also posting signs regarding the coronavirus in hospitals and doctors' offices. These signs alert patients of the symptoms and key ways to protect yourself from the flu-like virus.
There are currently six confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., including two cases in Illinois that represent the first person to person transmission in the country.
The virus started in Wuhan, China. More than 230 people are dead, and there are more than 9,700 confirmed cases there. The virus has now spread to 22 countries.
"We know it is spread by droplets, so that's why masking is important. So, if a patient is suspected to have this, we will mask them and put them in isolation," said Morin.
Morin says right now, the coronavirus is less of a risk than the flu.
"I believe it has really gotten a lot of attention because of where it is coming from and it is so brand new. We don't have a lot of data," said Morin.
Morin says don't panic, just stay vigilant.
"Hand-washing will be the best defense against this virus and really all viruses," said Morin.