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February 12, 2020

Seasonal flu is more of a concern than 2019 novel coronavirus

Boulder County, Colo – There are no confirmed cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in Colorado. Public health officials recommend that residents focus on taking steps to keep themselves healthy and free from seasonal flu and colds, which they are much more likely to encounter than the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Currently the risk to most Coloradans from 2019 novel coronavirus is low, and the health care system in Colorado is prepared to promptly identify, evaluate, and respond to any possible cases.

To become sick from coronavirus, a person must to be “exposed” to the virus, which means being within about six feet of someone with a confirmed infection for a prolonged period. It is believed the virus spreads similarly to the flu or common cold – through respiratory droplets spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

“Unless a person has traveled to China within the last two weeks or come in close contact with someone who was confirmed to have novel coronavirus, they really should be more worried about seasonal influenza than coronavirus,” said Chana Goussetis, Boulder County Public Health spokesperson.

All travelers from China are being screened at U.S. airports upon arrival into the country. Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is not permitted to travel to their final destination and is taken to a medical facility for further evaluation and care. Any traveler who has visited Hubei province in the previous 14 days is also not permitted to continue travel and is placed in a U.S. quarantine facility for 14 days. Those without symptoms of coronavirus who haven’t recently visited Hubei province are permitted to travel on, and their information is passed on to public health officials who follow up with them and conduct a risk assessment and monitoring plan for 14 days.

“Residents can rest assured that, at this time, it is unlikely they will contract coronavirus here in the U.S.,” said Goussetis. “Our public health experts are specially trained to track and respond to disease outbreaks – it’s what they do!”

As with any other virus, there is no identity, community, ethnic, or racial group in Colorado that’s more at risk for getting or spreading 2019 novel coronavirus.

“In times of a disease outbreak it’s not uncommon for communities to respond with fear, which can lead to stigma, bias, and racism,” said Jeff Zayach, Boulder County Public Health director. “We ask that our community offer support and compassion to our neighbors and friends who have been impacted by this outbreak.”

There are many kinds of coronaviruses, such as the common cold, that are currently circulating in Colorado and the U.S. While these viruses may also be called “coronaviruses,” they are not 2019 novel coronavirus.

“The best thing that residents can do is take the normal precautions they would take to prevent the spread of most other respiratory diseases,” said Goussetis.

Public health officials recommend that healthy individuals:

  • Continue their normal daily routines, including participating in public gatherings, such as work, school, or social activities.
  • Get a flu shot, and stay up-to-date on other routine immunizations.
  • Wash their hands with soap and water, especially after being in contact with someone who is ill.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched, such as desks, doorknobs, handrails, etc.

Anyone who is sick should take the following precautions:

  • Stay home.
  • Cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your inner elbow shirt sleeve.
  • Wash their hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone else with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Get a flu shot, and stay up-to-date on their other routine immunizations.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched, such as desks, doorknobs, handrails, etc.

For more information, residents can contact the CO HELP novel coronavirus hotline 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话), and more, or monitor the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website at