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Emergency rooms bracing for explosion of coronavirus cases in coming weeks

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
A medical worker holds samples from patients infected by the coronavirus at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 10, 2020.
(STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Emergency room physicians nationwide are preparing for a surge in patients infected with the coronavirus, said Dr. William Jaquis, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, in a call with reporters on Thursday.

“COVID is very serious and we’re treating it as such,” he said. “We understand this is going to be a fairly tremendous strain on our health system.”

Jaquis said case counts of COVID-19 in the United States are likely to explode in the coming weeks.

“As testing increases, we’re going to see that number is going to grow,” he said. “Hopefully giving us a better idea of the true incidence of the disease, as well as the severity.”

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UC Davis ER physician Dr. Aimee Moulin said doctors are typically dealing with high patient volumes this time of year, as it is flu season. “To some level, this is something that we are used to regularly dealing with and it is something we are trained to take care of,” she said.

“The big part we’re all concerned about is [patient] volume and having the capacity to meet potential surges.”

Moulin said one of the biggest challenges is making sure they’re monitoring people who are tested and sent home while they await their results.

She said they have brought in a special infectious disease team to make sure those patients, who are asked to self-quarantine, are kept track of.

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“From our perspective in the ER, follow-up is a challenge for high- risk patients,” she said.

California has recorded 198 cases of the new coronavirus as of Thursday, up from 177 the day before, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced.

California officials are calling for the cancellation of all gatherings with 250 or more people to slow the spread of the coronavirus, a decision that came hours after a new federal travel ban and the suspension of the NBA season.

The recommendations have the potential to touch virtually all corners of social life across the state: community meetings, sports events and school theater performances.


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