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Colorado Health Officials, School Districts Prepare For Coronavirus

DENVER (CBS4) - Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are asking Americans to prepare for the spread of coronavirus. More than 50 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the U.S.

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The number of coronavirus cases continues to grow nationwide. In South Korea, nearly 1,000 cases and 10 confirmed deaths from the illness pushed the global tally of patients over 80,000 and the death toll closer to 3,000.

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"Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters. "It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness."

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The World Health Organization has called coronavirus a global health emergency but has declined to use the label "pandemic," a term used when a disease takes hold in multiple regions and spreads rampantly within communities.

The Trump administration has sought billions of dollars in additional funding from Congress to buy protective gear and work on treatments and a vaccine for the new virus. On Twitter Tuesday, Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner emphasized the need to coordinate resources to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Today's briefing made it clear that we must work in a global coordinated effort to contain COVID-19," stated Gardner. "I urge my colleagues to join me in working together to quickly provide adequate resources for the response effort."

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For weeks, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been evaluating the potential impact of coronavirus across the state. Colorado's Logistics Coordination Unit is working with local public health agencies, community healthcare providers, suppliers, distributors, and federal partners, to identify and mitigate potential shortages of supplies, medications, and personal protective equipment that would likely be used in the event of an outbreak in Colorado.

"Even though the health risk of novel coronavirus infection in Colorado is currently low, and we have no confirmed cases, we are preparing for the possibility that the virus may eventually spread in the state," said Jesica Bralish with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

CDPHE has prepared pandemic response plans at the state and local levels. Officials said the plans provide guidance regarding detection, response, and recovery efforts during a pandemic.

"At this point, we are in the pre-pandemic intervals and activities are focused on monitoring the situation, investigating potential cases, educating public health partners and the community, and preparing for response if we begin to see cases in Colorado," said Bralish.

School districts are also bracing for a possible coronavirus outbreak in the state. Paula Hans, spokesperson for Douglas County School District, said schools are working together to align their plans with local, state and federal guidance.

"Should an outbreak of Covid-19 occur in Douglas County, we will work with all agencies to clearly communicate a step-by-step plan to first and foremost, keep our students and staff safe, and then plan to continue to educate them during an outbreak," said Hans.

Boulder Valley School District issued the following statement to CBS4:

"BVSD has a pandemic plan and has been working very closely with our local public health agencies. During an outbreak we would follow their lead on any quarantines or other health measures needed. Our focus has been how education will continue, including through online options."

For the latest information about coronavirus, visit the CDC website.


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