UW doctor: ‘Not time to panic’ about coronavirus, but still cause for concern

Feb 26, 2020, 1:02 PM
The coronavirus has continued to spread across the globe. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

As concerns continue to mount regarding the ongoing spread of the coronavirus, many are wondering just how worried they should be.

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Dr. Peter Rabinowitz works for the University of Washington MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness, and he weighed in with his take.

“It’s certainly time to be prepared, and it’s time to have some worry about it,” he told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “[But] it’s not time to panic. The risk is still low, but it’s definitely a possibility.”

The coronavirus has now spread to at least 37 countries, from South Korea to Italy. As of publishing, its presence has been confirmed on every continent excepting Antarctica. In total, it has infected nearly 82,000 people, and killed 2,770. All but 55 of those deaths have occurred in mainland China.

South Korea has been hit the second hardest after China, followed by Japan and Italy, respectively. Iran has also reported over 100 cases.

In the United States, we’ve seen 59 confirmed cases of the virus. Dr. Rabinowitz notes that the average American is still unlikely to catch it going about their day-to-day lives.

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“We don’t have community spread of this virus in this country at this point,” he said. “So when you walk down the street, there’s no reason to expect that people walking by you are going to be infected with the virus and infecting you.”

As for the future of its spread both in the U.S. and abroad, Rabinowitz maintains that his level of concern sits at a “seven or eight.”

“If we don’t take some preparations right now and it gets worse, we’re going to really feel like we missed the boat,” he cautioned. “We need to be concerned, we need to be worried, and we need to be doing some preparation so that if it does get worse, we’re ready.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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UW doctor: ‘Not time to panic’ about coronavirus, but still cause for concern