Wuhan Coronavirus: Concern in SF Bay Area?

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There has been tons of recent news (as of Jan 2020) about the Wuhan Virus, also known as Coronavirus. It's a new flu strain to hit China, but timing couldn't be worse because it's occurring during China's largest holiday, Lunar New Year. Millions of Chinese make the journey via every form of public transit to visit parents in their hometowns. Wuhan happens to be in the central portion of the China, so trains, buses, and cars may be passing through as people make their way home to visit family. From what I understand, the Coronavirus can be spread during the incubation period, compare to SARS where a patient is only infectious after showing symptoms. This makes Coronavirus more infectious and easier to spread.

The news sounds bad, and that's what news agencies do to increase clicks and views. But should I be concerned as a resident of the SF Bay Area? I'm certain there will be at least one case in the SF Bay Area. There are too many Chinese people living here its difficult to imagine not one case spreading over. Most of the symptoms are similar to the flu. And I'm not elderly or an infant, so I would have a better chance of fighting off the coronavirus. Our largest airport is SFO, which handles a bulk of the area's international flights from Asia. The news from nearly news source of the actions taken by China is concerning. When reading numbers, take into account that China censors a lot of their news, so these numbers may be higher.

  • China is building a 1000 bed hospital in 6 days: The numbers 1000 and 6 are eye catching numbers and an aerial photo showing tons of bulldozers in a dirt lot, after which pre-fab buildings would be moved in. From what I understand, this is the same strategy taken during the 2002 SARS outbreak in Beijing. After the SARS outbreak, it was quietly abandoned. As a side note, I think this is similar to what FEMA should have done during Hurricane Katrina.
  • Hospitals at capacity: This twitter video shows overwhelmed hospital staff trying to deal with a hospital with no available beds, but a hallway full of patients with more on stretchers heading in. The head nurse is telling the other staff to back the stretchers out because there's no more space.
  • Wuhan and 13 other cities in Hubei Quarantined: After 42 deaths and 1300 cases, cities are on lock down. Public transit is closed, trains halted, flights cancelled for over 41 million Chinese residents.
  • Videos of people dying on the street: These are again unconfirmed, but they're all dated to be recent Jan 23, 2020.
  • CNN Reporting Rushing Before Quarantine: An interested English speaking reporter's perspective of the rush to get out of Wuhan before the shutdown.
  • Shanghai Disney Closes: Even popular attractions such as Shanghai Disney close over fears of spreading the Coronavirus.

Should I be concerned? 

As of today (Jan 25, 2020), I haven't heard of any confirmed cases in California. The closest confirmed case is currently in Seattle, Washington, which also handles a fair number of international flights for Aisa. But despite all the news and tweets as outlined above, I'm personally not concerned that the outbreak will be as severe as in China. The five major airports handling flights from Wuhan (including SFO). I'm not taking any drastic changes. However, after learning from the CA wildfire 2017 and 2018 when the smoke drifted to the SF Bay Area, there were a shortage of N95 masks.

  1. Wash my hands more frequently
  2. Wash my hands more thoroughly
  3. Avoid touching my eyes and mouth

Even though I didn't end up using the one's I ordered, it's a small price to pay for a bit of piece of mind. Therefore for peace of mind, I've purchased a a pack of face masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer from the below video. Both a simple ways that won't impact my day to day. And the hand sanitizer is good long term practice.

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