Novel Coronavirus – what you need to know

February 03, 2020 / By Dr. Frances Gough, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Molina Healthcare of Washington

Novel Coronavirus – what you need to know

You probably have heard about Novel Coronavirus in the news recently.

  • As of February 3, U.S. health officials have reported 11 cases of coronavirus in five states, including California (six cases), Illinois (two cases), and Washington (one case).
  • Most of the cases reported so far were among individuals who recently traveled to the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where the outbreak began in December 2019.

Here’s an overview of what you need to know to reduce the chance of infection and stay healthy.

About the Coronavirus

Initially, this virus likely emerged from an animal source but is now spreading from person-to-person, although the exact mechanism is unclear. It is also not clear how easily the virus can spread. It is suspected that this coronavirus may have similar transmission as other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.

Public health screenings for travelers have been put into effect at several U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Travelers to Wuhan should avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets. Young children, older adults, and individuals with other health conditions and/or already weakened immune systems are at higher risk. Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath


There is currently no vaccine to help prevent Novel Coronavirus. The following daily actions can help prevent infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces


There are no specific antiviral treatments recommended for Novel Coronavirus. People who think they may have been exposed to the virus should contact their health care provider immediately.

What to do if You’ve Contracted Novel Coronavirus

  • Stay home, except to get medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transportation, Lyft or Uber
  • Separate yourself from other people in your home. As much as possible, you should stay in a different room from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor. Before your appointment, call your provider and tell them that you have, or are being evaluated for Novel Coronavirus. This will help the provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected
  • Wear a facemask when you are in the same room with other people and when you visit a health care provider
  • Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water
  • Avoid contact with pets and other animals

Be aware that this is a serious condition, but that people in the United States are currently at low risk.

For more information about the coronavirus, please visit:

Category: Children / Safety / Seniors