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State health officials urge Coloradans to take coronavirus seriously as disease continues to spread

Official: Prepare for coronavirus as you would a snowstorm
Posted at 6:17 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 21:02:39-05

AURORA, Colo.  — Across the world, more than 80,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus and at least 2,700 people have died from the disease.

Here in Colorado, people aren't wasting any time and are being pro-active to avoid catching the virus.

On her last day on the job before retiring from Ace Hardware, Nancy Conte said she's never seen anything like the response the coronavirus has received from concerned residents.

"The wall has been emptied, everyone has come in and bought all of our dust masks," Conte said, adding they aren't expected to receive more dust masks until April.

"I think people are just paranoid about the virus," Conte said.

Michelle Barron, the director of infection prevention at UCHealth, said symptoms of the virus are similar to those of the flu or a cold.

"People who are older are probably being affected and have more issues with this. Children are actually disproportionately not affected by this, which is a little unusual for most viruses and anybody with kids knows, kids get viruses all the time," Barron said.

Barron compares preparing for the possibility of the coronavirus spreading in Colorado to a winter storm.

"Just be smart about preparation. It doesn’t mean you have to hide in your basement and hope everything goes away," said Barron. "Just be practical; what would you do if a snowstorm was coming? Think in that sort of same context."

One of the most important measures people can take is to wash their hands and avoid touching your face. If you feel sick, doctors recommend treating your symptoms the same why you would for the flu or a cold. If your symptoms get worse, seek medical help.

MORE: Tips on how to prevent catching, spreading coronavirus

Eagle County health officials said Tuesday they have stepped up precautions should the virus makes its way to the county.

“Our biggest concern is slowing down the spread of the disease when it occurs in our county. At that time we will ask patients that believe they might have COVID-19 to please stay home and call their healthcare provider to discuss their symptoms and need for medical care," Eagle County health officials said in a statement.

In a statement also released Tuesday, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO, blasted the Trump administration for what he called a "pitiful" response to the global health emergency after the president only asked $1.8 billion in supplemental funds to address the disease.

"To make matters worse, President Trump has left critical positions sitting empty at the very agencies charged with protecting our national security and public health. The Trump Administration must treat this emerging threat with the urgency it demands," Bennet said.

Hours before President Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead the government's response to coronavirus, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-CO, also blasted the Trump administration for lacking a clear chain-of-command in response to the virus.

DeGette and others are pushing to provide U.S. public health agencies with an additional $6.5 billion in emergency funding to fight the virus, while the top Republican in the House, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, said he was willing to back a proposal to provide an additional $4.5 billion in emergency spending, according to a news release.

Locally, Denver Public Schools officials said in a news release Wednesday that they are actively communicating with the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the state department of public health in regards to COVID-19.

"We are still taking this health threat very seriously, continuing to monitor schools for outbreaks, and regularly disinfecting schools during and after school hours," DPS officials said in a stateament.

They also urged parents to not send their kids to school if they fall ill.