DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Health Medical Center, like a lot of hospitals is faced with planning right now for potentially being swamped with sick people from the coronavirus. Already, some hospitals in the nation are setting up tents for people seeking testing and treatment.
“We are looking at setting up alternative care sites. Mostly for the assessment of fever and respiratory illness and the large number of people seeking evaluation for those symptoms,” said Dr. Connie Price, chief medical officer at Denver Health Medical Center.
The problem for the hospital as for many health care sites, is testing kits.
“I think when we get more access to testing then we can offer those services,” she told CBS4’s Alan Gionet during an interview on CBS4 This Morning.
When asked about testing ability, she agreed there is “still a shortage.”
Dr. Price is also an infectious disease specialist. We also talked about the development of a vaccine. Trials started today in Seattle on a vaccine; with a caveat. The vaccine being tested there will only be administered to healthy young people and in varying doses. It will take over a year for testing and potential production. That brings up a question of whether the virus will mutate or change enough that a vaccine might be only partially effective. Experts chase the flu each year by trying to predict what form it will take next season. The coronavirus is different she says.
“The influenza virus has to be updated every year because the surface markers on the virus change a little bit every year. Coronaviruses aren’t known to do that,” she explained. “So this should be strain specific and we should be able to develop an effective vaccine.”
Then the bad news, “Coronaviruses are part of a family of cold viruses and I wonder if it’s easier said than done. We haven’t yet been able to figure out how to vaccinate against the common cold so this might be harder than we think.”
Additional Information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:
- Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer; use your elbow or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes
- Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick. The illness can last for many days so make preparations now to work from home if possible.
- We advise Coloradans to always be prepared for an emergency– like a large snowstorm– and have a plan for your family. Make sure to have 72 hours of key supplies on hand like medications, infant formula, diapers, pet food, etc. FEMA guidance for pre-pandemic COVID-19 preparedness is available on Ready.gov.
- Stay informed with reliable, up-to-date information. People who have general questions about coronavirus disease 2019, can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话), and more.