OAKLAND, Calif. - If the spread, now worldwide, of coronavirus can be characterized, it's acting like a volcano that's just of the edge of blowing its top. Many experts, most notably, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, say the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. is inevitable, given the enormous numbers of people going to and from infected countries.
Those showing symptoms can be quarantined to lessen the spread. But, says Dr. Art Reingold, an epidemiologist at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, once in the U.S., the transportation system, planes, trains, buses and cars, distributes those coming into the nation everywhere. “Some of those people will become sick, but not until they're already back at home or back in the country, whatever it is. Some will never become sick and the real question is to what extent can either of those two groups transmit the virus to others in the absence of any symptoms?” said Reingold.
For many people, a major concern is that transportation, especially in local areas, can rapidly spread the disease. BART and every other major transportation system have a series of programs and protocols to deal with everything from terrorist biological attacks all the way through communicable diseases. “People can also transmit in many, many other public settings. So, if you're going to say we should close down public transit because of this problem, it seems to me, there are many, many other types of interpersonal contacts and public events, sporting event and all kinds of things where you'd need to make a similar judgement,” said Reingold. Doctor Runjhun Misra is an Osteopath practicing in the East Bay who sees sick patients daily. “In all public transit where you have people in close proximity of each other, there's just a greater chance and likelihood of spread,” said Dr. Misra.
Dr. Misra’s best advice: be prepared, not scared. If coronavirus spreads, avoid crowds whenever possible. Just as important, protect others from your own respiratory issues. “We have to be vigilant about our own symptoms. We have to protect other people from ourselves if we are truly sick and we have to take that responsibility,” said Misra.
Say both doctors, it's wise to be wary of coronavirus, but fear and irrational actions will only drive more fear.