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Flathead County health officials preparing for coronavirus

Posted at 2:23 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 23:03:01-05

Health officials in Northwest Montana are putting plans in place in case the coronavirus comes to the valley.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced Monday that it has confirmed five new cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States, bringing the nation’s total to 11.

Flathead County Health Officer Hillary Hanson says research shows coronavirus was possibly transmitted from animals to humans as well as from human to human.

She told MTN News that the department is partnering with local hospitals -- as well as the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services -- to put response plans into place. Some of the measures include appropriating transportation and setting up a quarantine if the virus were to come to the county.

Those infected describe the coronavirus similar to that of the flu, suffering from a fever and shortness of breath. Hanson explained that virus symptoms can be mild or even can cause death. One difference between the flu and the virus is your travel history and Hanson is asking people who have traveled to China recently to take precautions.

"What we're asking folks to do is not to go directly to their provider because we want to make sure we're protecting the public and that they're not in waiting rooms or other areas while they may be symptomatic but rather staying home and we'll work with them to be transported," explained Hanson. "If they can transport themselves that's the best-case scenario. If they can't, then we'll be working with emergency response to make sure the transfer happens with the appropriate protective equipment."

Hanson is also reminding people to take every day preventative measures, including washing hands with soap and water on a regular basis. Anyone with questions or concerns can call an information only hot line at (406) 751-8188.

Please note: The CDC calls the coronavirus a "rapidly evolving situation" and information is changing and expanding. Click here to access the CDC's latest information.