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Kaleida Health preparing for coronavirus like it's already here

Nick Lippa

Western New York organizations like Kaleida Health are preparing for COVID- 19 by treating it as a virus that will eventually make its way to the region.

The number of confirmed coronavirus disease cases is now over 20 in downstate New York. Kaleida Health Chief Physician Quality Officer Ken Snyder said it’s only a matter of time before the virus makes its way to Western New York.

“I think we should all have an expectation that there might be a case," Snyder said. "And that's how we're approaching this.”

Snyder said they treat every patient as if they could have a contagious infection of some kind.

“What's interesting and what we need to educate in this case is what someone who is sick needs to do on their part to help us in those scenarios," he said. "And it's really a cough etiquette. It's an ability to be washing your hands. It's stuff that we should be doing routinely in the flu and RSV season, that only now we're really trying to drive home.”

Worldwide there are close to 100,000 confirmed cases. The mortality rate is around 3%. Snyder said with appropriate preparation, that number can be significantly lower.

“Eighty-thousand of those cases are just from China alone, where it's 3%. If you look at a place like South Korea that was truly looking at let me understand this disease. They had over 6,088 positive cases. Only 25 deaths," Snyder said. "That's point 5%. It's radically different. And so we just have to be careful about looking at the overall numbers right now as we think through how severe and how bad is this?”

Snyder said they will hopefully be able to answer more questions as they learn more over the next few weeks.

"There are people that with tuberculosis that show up much more severe," Snyder said. "We don't have this level of media attention around it. Yet our health care workers combat it every day across this country.”

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.