On Thursday, U.S. health officials confirmed yet another case of the new coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 15. And this time it’s Texas.
The officials said the 15th case, which has been diagnosed in Texas, is one of the passengers evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the new virus outbreak. The patient was flown to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio last week.
Worldwide, the new coronavirus, which is now officially known as COVID-19, has sickened 64,452 and killed 1,384 people so far.
So, what happens if the U.S. experiences a surge in patients with COVID-19? Will the nation cope up with it? Is it ready to face the challenge and stop the spread?
Jonathan Greene from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said, “Surge capacity in the health care system is something that we think a lot about and prepare for in the U.S., and not specifically to coronavirus per se, but for a whole host of events that could occur in the United States.”
He noted that the risk of people coming down with the virus is “extremely low” if they have not traveled to China or come into close contact with an infected person.
Public health officials are leaving no stone unturned in preventing the spread of the virus in the United States. In fact, they have repeatedly been cautioning that there are no signs of community transmissions.
However, some experts are skeptical about the health officials’ capacity to handle a serious epidemic with a sudden surge in the number of infections.
Bioterrorism and Biosafety expert Dr. Tara O’Toole, who supports US national security, said, “No one is ready for a worst-case-scenario for a really bad, lethal, fast-moving pandemic.”
O’Toole thinks hospitals may face a very hard time handling a large number of patients and isolate them in wards. She said, “That’s why we want to make sure that the people we’re putting in hospitals and keeping isolated are really the ones who need that kind of care.”
Greene said we already have plans to address this issue. He said, “One of the ways we do that is through the expansion of telemedicine or the ability to utilize other types of facilities to treat patients that don’t need the type of acute care that someone who has severe respiratory distress might require.”
Meanwhile, the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department have been looking for a person or a group of people responsible for posting a false document online, which suggests that the new coronavirus case has been confirmed in the Southern California city of Carson. The LA County Department of Public Health said the document is fake and there are no cases in Carson. The fake document has images with the logos of CDC, WHO and LA County Department of Public Health.