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Health official answers rumors about coronavirus

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BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- The novel coronavirus is arguably the health story of the year.

Indiana officials briefed local media on their plans to protect the public at the St. Joseph County-City Building Thursday.

But ABC 57 wanted to know exactly what everyday people in Michiana have heard about the outbreak - and put it to the test in Berrien County with its health department’s communications manager, Gillian Conrad.

One shopper at a Meijer in South Bend remarked, “People with chronic illnesses are more at risk.”

Conrad’s response:
“Fact. We do know that people with chronic illnesses, especially those who are elderly, are more at risk for Covid-19."

Dominic Haskins asked, “Is there a cure? Or was it like a man-made outbreak? I heard it spreads like the common cold.”

Conrad:
“We do not know all the origins of this disease at this point. But we do know that I can spread a lot like the common cold. It’s spread through droplets in the air that come out of your mouth, nose, or when you sneeze.”

John Winston said, “At some of these sporting venues there’s always about five or 10,000 people, especially at Notre Dame. I’m sure there’s a concern you may run into someone that has something going on that you don’t know anything about.”

Conrad:
“At this point in time there are no recommendations for canceling or closing large events, however it is important to know that if you are in a large crowd, make sure you are aware of your surroundings. Wash hands frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, and make sure you’re at least 6 feet away from someone who might be coughing actively.

Another shopper said, “I would be concerned to go on a cruise right now or to travel by air. That’s a little bit nerve-racking. But I don’t know how much worse it is than H1N1 or the flu.”

Conrad:
“The CDC does have several travel recommendations in place, including for international travel or people looking to take cruises. So we do recommend looking into those travel recommendations to know what do you need to know before you travel.”

The overwhelming consensus for officials and many companies in light of the spread remains if you do get a fever or any other symptoms - do not come into work or class.

As for these masks that are running out across the world, they’re only needed for those already experiencing symptoms. All local officials who have spoken with ABC 57 have advised not to keep a big stock of them.

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