Amid warnings from federal health officials that "it's not a question of if, but when" the novel coronavirus will begin to spread at the community level in the U.S, President Trump cited a report from Johns Hopkins University that said America is the most prepared country to handle an outbreak of COVID-19.
But how exactly should our health care facilities be preparing for a potential outbreak here at home?
“Once coronavirus hits on a community level, hospital systems will have limited space to treat and prevent the spread, but they have additional options,” Dr. Linda Lee, chief medical affairs and science officer at UV Angel, told Fox News. “It’s imperative that we educate hospitals on the fact that technology already exists to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, and this technology is tested and proven.”
For example, Lee said, when it comes to monitoring transmission through the air it is known that viruses are sensitive to ultraviolet light treatment, with coronavirus being no exception.
“Technology exists today that can bring the UV light to each patient room and public space to continuously treat the air for free circulating viruses, bacteria, and funguses,” Lee said. “This can be done in a safe and effective manner.”
Lee added that it will take a collaborative effort across health care systems and technology firms to remain ahead of the virus.
“New threats are emerging daily and technology is responding,” Lee said. “Health care needs to catch up and try to stay ahead but it is a daunting task; it takes all of us working together to address what we’re facing today.”
And in the event that a coronavirus patient does turn up at a hospital, there are measures the facility can take to protect their already vulnerable patients.
“Hospitals have designated rooms and areas for isolation of infections patients,” Lee said. “These rooms are designed to keep other patients and staff separated to prevent infections from spreading within the facility. Medical staff reserve these for the sickest patients and specially trained staff care for these patients to ensure everyone is protected.”
It’s not hospitals and medical facilities that can help prepare for a potential outbreak either, as there are steps Americans can take to avoid illness in their everyday lives. Those who are sick, Lee said, should practice social distancing and self-isolation until fully recovered.
“Most people with infectious diseases are not in hospitals, meaning they are out and about with you on your train or bus to work, in the restaurant you are eating in, and in other public places,” Lee said. “People impact the spread of pathogens as they move about the community – or even go to their doctor’s office. Because of this, call your doctor and ask for their direction on how to heal from your illness. It may mean simply staying home to protect yourself and others.”