SEATTLE — Even though the risk of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus for people in the United States is currently low, leaders in Washington state are taking several precautions.
Governor Jay Inslee said at a press conference Wednesday he is marshaling state resources to help handle the coronavirus.
He also wrote a letter to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking the agency to expand screening protocols to all passengers from the Hubei province and any other province in China experiencing significant community transmission
"I have asked that that protocol include temperature and health history of people entering Sea-Tac from regions of China that have been impacted by human to human transmission," said Gov. Inslee.
The CDC announced Monday it would begin enhanced screening at its 20 quarantine stations across the U.S., which includes a station at Sea-Tac Airport.
The CDC is recommending people avoid all non-essential travel to any part of China for the time being.
Travelers at Sea-Tac Airport on Wednesday were paying close attention to coronavirus health alerts posted around the airport.
"I would say just nerve-racking," said Jovani Pena, who traveled from Los Angeles to Seattle with his sister, Tiffany and her boyfriend, Henry Flores.
All three decided to wear masks as a precaution.
"We just wanted to be safe," said Tiffany Pena. "If we are going to be walking around (the airport), I prefer it on just cause we kind of hear people coughing and we get a little spooked now."
The Port of Seattle has increased janitorial services and added more hand sanitizer machines around the airport.
Airlines are also adjusting due to the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China. Some have canceled flights to China altogether, while others are offering passengers who have purchased tickets a free change service.
Delta Airlines is temporarily reducing the number of weekly flights it operates between the U.S. and China due to significantly reduced demand. Those reduced flights will be in effect from February 6 through April 30.
As of Wednesday, China announced it has more than 7,700 cases of coronavirus reported in the country and the death toll has risen to 170.
At Public Health - Seattle and King County, the staff is working around the clock to track the virus. Health experts pointed out the risk of coronavirus in the U.S. is associated with exposure through travel or to a confirmed case of the infection, but not related to any particular ethnicity or nationality.
"Seven have tested negative, and we are waiting the test results on eight more," said Dr. John Wiesman, the state's Secretary of Health.
The Snohomish County man is reportedly in satisfactory condition at an Everett hospital. Sixty-seven people who had close contact with that man are being monitored by the local health officials.
Symptoms of novel Coronavirus include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. There is currently no vaccine for the virus.
The Washington Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington state, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, they ask you please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.