ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Rep. Charlie Crist visited the Community Health Center of Pinellas on Monday and met with medical staff to address preparations for any potential coronavirus outbreak in Pinellas County.
“Coronavirus is a new virus which poses health risks to our community and patients. Certainly, we have some significant concerns regarding it,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nichelle Threadgill said. “Like influenza, it is an infection that can easily spread.”
Earlier this month, Rep. Crist (D-FL-13) sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling for greater action and transparency as the country prepares for to possibly combat the coronavirus.
“It’s hard for us to address it if we don’t know what the facts are,” said Crist.
In the letter addressed to the CDC’s director Robert Redfield, Crist urges the federal agency to focus on outreach, prevention and education for vulnerable communities such as seniors and children, along with those with weak immune systems.
“By concealing early information about the disease, the Chinese government enabled its spread along with the spread of fear and misinformation. To avoid a repeat of that in the United States, transparency is key,” said Crist.
Coronavirus in the US
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed 398 people under investigation for the novel coronavirus in 37 states, according to an update posted to the agency’s website on Monday. Hover over the bars to see the numbers.
The coronavirus was first reported in China on Dec. 31, 2019, and now has more than 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide. More than 900 people have died.
“Stay on top of it, be in tune to what is going on, listen to health care professionals. Take their advice and seek their counsel, get a flu shot and just be mindful,” said Crist.
Coronavirus symptoms have some similarities with the flu including runny nose, headache, cough and fever.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shortness of breath, body aches and chills could be associated with more dangerous types of the coronavirus. In extreme cases of the coronavirus, the virus may cause pneumonia, bronchitis, kidney failure and death.
Dr. Threadgill says there is a plan in place if there is a potential coronavirus outbreak in Pinellas County.
“We are vigilant with questioning and screening patients as they present respiratory symptoms or generally the initial presentation and so isolation and prevention is really the key at this point,” said Threadgill.