DENVER – The general risk to the Colorado public of contracting novel coronavirus is low, and there are no confirmed cases in the state thus far despite three people having been tested for the virus, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said Monday.
The CDPHE said two of the three people in Colorado who have been tested for the virus have tested negative and that the results of the tests on the third person are pending at the Centers for Disease Control. The CDPHE said all three people had a history of travel to China.
The risk to Coloradans of contracting the virus, which has sickened thousands and left dozens dead in China, is low, CDPHE said. But the department said it is continuing to investigate possible cases of the coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in people with respiratory illnesses who have recently traveled to China and was preparing for a “swift response.”
“It’s understandable that people may be worried about the appearance of a new virus, but the health risk to the general public in Colorado remains low,” said Dr. Rachel Herlihy, the CDPHE’s state communicable disease epidemiologist.
The CDPHE said that the investigations into possible cases was normal because health care providers are being extra cautious.
“This heightened level of caution and awareness among the health care community and the general public is what we want,” said Tony Cappello, Ph.D., the CDPHE’s division director for Disease Control and Public Health Response. “There’s a lot we still don’t know about the novel coronavirus, but we’re confident that Colorado’s response is strong, proactive, and collaborative. Coloradans’ safety is our top priority.”
The state has launched a website dedicated to the 2019-nCoV virus which will be updated with any confirmed information each Wednesday and which contains health information for anyone with questions about novel coronavirus.
There are several different types of coronaviruses, and some are common in the U.S in the fall and winter, CDPHE said. The department said MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV are among the other types that have caused international outbreaks in the past. The symptoms of coronaviruses typically include respiratory illnesses, fever, coughing and shortness of breath, and they often spread through coughing and sneezing.
People are urged to wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based liquids, avoid people who have respiratory illnesses and to stay home if they are sick if they are concerned about the spread of the virus or about cold and flu season.
As of Sunday, there were five confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S., the CDC said.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and 30 other Democratic senators wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar Monday asking for updated on the agencies response to the coronavirus update.