It’s normal to be concerned about new diseases, and new information is coming out frequently. The best thing people can do is stay informed from reliable sources and know the facts.

Currently, the risk to most Coloradans from 2019 novel coronavirus is LOW, and we are confident the health care system in Colorado is prepared to promptly identify and evaluate any suspected cases and minimize potential disease spread.

Know the facts

• To become sick, someone has to be “exposed” to the virus. CDC defines exposure as being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of someone with a confirmed infection for a prolonged period of time.

• Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory viruses spread. However, even that is not a guarantee that someone will become sick with the virus.

For these reasons, people at higher risk of becoming sick are:

• People who have traveled to China within the last 2 weeks.

• People who have had close contact with someone who was confirmed to have the novel coronavirus.

• Like any other virus, no identity, community, ethnic or racial group in Colorado is more at risk for getting or spreading 2019 novel coronavirus.

• State and local public health are working together, following federal guidance, to assess Colorado travelers returning from China to determine the need for monitoring, restriction of movement, quarantine or other action to prevent the spread of the virus.

Risk from other viruses is greater

• There are many kinds of coronaviruses, like the common cold, currently circulating in Colorado and the U.S., that cause respiratory illness. While these viruses may also be called “coronaviruses,” they are not 2019 novel coronavirus.

• There also are many other kinds of respiratory illnesses (such as flu) circulating right now.

• People are at much greater risk of getting the flu than the 2019 novel coronavirus. It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine.

Symptoms and severity

• Symptoms of respiratory viruses, including the novel coronavirus, include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

• Any of these illnesses can be severe and require hospitalization, but most individuals recover by resting, drinking plenty of liquids and taking pain and fever-reducing medications.

• If you did not have a high risk of exposure, it is very unlikely you have novel coronavirus. But if you are ill and concerned, contact your health care provider.

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