What You Need to Know About Coronavirus | Stamford Moms


The news has been flooded with stories about Coronavirus. But what exactly is it, and how concerned should we be?

Locally, the City of Stamford’s Office of Public Safety, along with the Stamford Health Department, is closely monitoring the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is in frequent communication with the CDC and the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Stamford Mayor David Martin is stressing the importance of education along with continued preparedness and response training. “The City of Stamford has been tracking and preparing to safeguard the community and first responders from COVID-19 for several weeks,” said Mayor Martin, “during this time frame, we have been working closely with state health officials, emergency medical responders and Stamford Hospital to provide for a coordinated response.”

To date, Stamford has not identified any positive cases of COVID-19. However, the city says its prepared to respond if the virus that causes COVID-19 is detected in Stamford.

According to the Connecticut State Department of Public Health website, there are no confirmed cases in Connecticut at this time.

The website also says that In Connecticut and throughout the world, influenza (flu) activity is high. Unless you have traveled to or from Wuhan, China, or been in close contact with a confirmed infected person for a prolonged period of time, it is likely that symptoms you experience are caused by the flu. The CDC encourages all people aged 6 months and older to be vaccinated. It is not too late to get vaccinated for the flu. Check with your healthcare provider, call your local health department, or visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder(adults) for availability of flu vaccinations.

Dr. Jennifer Calder, the Director of Health stated, “It is important for the public to know that this infection looks very similar to influenza so if you have not taken your flu shot, you can still get one.  The primary way to prevent infecting yourself is by washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer and staying away from people who are sick. The Department of Health will continue to work with local, state, and federal partners to review preparedness measures and response protocols, as well as to provide the public with up-to-date information.”

DOCS Medical Group in Stamford is still offering flu shots. Details are available here. DOCS accepts most insurance plans and offers $20 flu shots if you’re paying out of pocket.

By definition, a coronavirus is common virus that causes relatively harmless cold symptoms—irritation of the nose, sinuses, upper throat. Some types can be particularly deadly, however—MERS and SARS, for instance. The one everyone is talking about now, that recently originated in Wuhan, China, is called 2019 novel coronavirus, and is infecting thousands more in that region every day. In the United States, there are currently only a handful of cases, but with over 500 deaths and 28,000 cases worldwide (primarily in China).

Richard Martinello, MD., a Yale Medicine infectious disease specialist who is the medical director of the Infection Prevention Department at Yale New Haven Health is answering our questions.

How worried should parents be about Coronavirus?
There is no need to panic or change any routines at this time. It is important to ensure that you take actions and practice good behaviors to stay healthy. Since we expect the flu virus to continue circulate in Connecticut at least through April, if you or a family member is not yet vaccinated, getting them vaccinated is the single best action to take. In addition, getting into good habits with hand washing, keeping fingers away from ones face and ensuring family members stay home when there sick also helps to keep a community healthy.

How is it spread?
It is not known exactly how the novel coronavirus is spread, but research on this topic is underway. We do know other coronaviruses can be spread both by respiratory droplets and from contaminated surfaces by hands.

How can it be prevented—are masks a good idea?
While wearing a mask may provide some protection from respiratory viruses, there are other actions which may be more effective. First, avoid persons who may be sick. Sometimes, on elevators or subway cars for example, this may not be possible, but when it is in your control. Staying a distance from those ill can help. Second, many respiratory viruses are transmitted from contaminated surfaces by our own hands to our eyes and nose. Keeping your hands and fingers away from your face may be one of the most effective ways to keep from getting sick. If you must touch your eyes or nose, washing your hands carefully with soap and water or using an alcohol based hand rub can help to destroy germs on your hands. One point for caution if you do choose to wear a mask is that one generally touches their face while putting the mask on and taking it off. And, since the mask can irritate one’s face, people wearing masks for long periods often touch their face- this can actually increase their risk for getting sick.

Is Coronavirus deadlier than the flu?
So far, the data has suggested that it is more deadly than seasonal flu and more contagious. However, we expect that as more data becomes available, we’ll have a more precise understanding of the spectrum of disease and the severity of disease from the novel coronavirus.

In the grand scheme of risk, should we be more worried about the flu than Coronavirus?
Right now, we really need to continue to focus on flu. We do need to follow the novel coronavirus carefully, but flu remains and is having a significant impact on our health.

Why has Coronavirus been so deadly in China, and do you expect it to be as deadly here?
It’s possible that our experience here will be similar to what China is now experiencing. However, as the weather starts to get warmer, that may impact how easily the novel coronavirus can spread, impacting what we experience.

Which kids/families are most at risk for these illnesses?
We know that being in any circumstance where there is close contact with people is a risk for the spread of respiratory viruses and the larger the group, the greater the risk. Places such as households, schools, daycare, work, etc. all have some degree of risk whether it is for flu, the novel coronavirus or another respiratory virus.

Still have questions?

The Ferguson Library Main Branch is hosting What You Need to Know About Coronavirus on Thursday at 7 p.m. Dr. Asha Shah, Associate Director of Infectious Disease at Stamford Health Medical Group is talking about how to stay safe.

For more information, check the following:


This post originally appeared on The Local Moms Network

Join The Stamford Moms Network Community

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in-and-around the Stamford community with local events, community highlights, and exclusive deals.