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Health officials try to ease concern, as reports of Coronavirus spread

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The CDC has announced it expects the coronavirus to spread in the U.S., saying it’s not a question of if, but when, and how severe it will be.

Experts at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse say, while that sounds dire, normal precautions should keep people safe.

“This is where we reiterate the same infection control practices like hand hygiene,” Megan Meller, Gundersen infection preventionist said. “Anything we’d recommend to avoid catching a cold or flu would be the same practice you’d apply to this.”

The Coronavirus numbers are much higher in other countries, and Meller thinks the lack of certainty surrounding the disease might be feeding the hysteria.

“When flu first came out, it’s incredibly alarming because it has a high mortality rate,” Meller said. “Then all of a sudden it becomes the standard. We have that similar strain in our population now and we’re not seeing that same level of illness.”

Regardless of the low numbers in Wisconsin, Gundersen is still ready to deal with the disease.

“We have an emergency preparedness plan. We sit on multiple hospital boards to make sure the communication across multiple hospitals is consistent,” Meller said. “Also, in contact with the local health department, which is in contact with the state department.”

The World Health Organization calls the virus a world health emergency but stops short of calling it a pandemic.

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.

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