Two months ago, the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, which was first identified in Wuhan, China. The new name of the disease is COVID-19.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and prevention have stated there are many types of human coronaviruses, including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a new coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

Lisa Dick, health administrator with the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department said there are no cases of Coronavirus in the local area and discussed the comparison with the flu. “With the regular flu, most of us have been exposed to it before, so there is a substantial amount of immunity and we have vaccines for the flu,” Dick said. “With Coronavirus, the symptoms are very similar with coughing, fever and respiratory issues. That is how the two can be confused.”

Aside from the obvious hand washing, Dick discussed other ways to avoid becoming ill. “Avoid others who are sick,” Dick said. “Stay at least six feet away from someone who is sick. It is contagious by droplets. Stay home if you are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth after touching an area a sick person has come in contact with, such as a countertop or just any surface.”

Travel plays a big part in the spread of Coronavirus. “Here, in this area, the risk is really low,” Dick said. “If someone were to travel to Italy for example and come back with respiratory issues, the risk would be much higher.”

Dick pointed out that just recently, tests that were sent to the CDC in Atlanta are now being sent to facilities in Texas, including the Metroplex. “If needed, our tests would go there and we would get the results much faster,” Dick explained. “Testing is also available through private labs.”

Those at higher risk for COVID-19 are older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart and lung disease as well as diabetes. The CDC stated that if you are at a higher risk of becoming ill from the disease, you should:

• Stock up on supplies

• Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others

• When out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often

• Avoid crowds as much as possible.

• Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel

For more information or questions, visit www.cdc.gov or call the Brownwood/Brown County Health Department at 325-646-0554.