After the 2014 Ebola scare, a national system was put into place aimed at responding to new infectious disease threats. The U.S. is one of 24 countries with confirmed coronavirus cases — now known as COVID-19 — and hospitals are putting to work lessons learned through special infectious disease trainings.
Scientists are still working to understand coronavirus, but hospitals are already taking every precaution to prevent the spread of the disease. If patients arrive with fever, sneezing, and coughing, they're asked to wear a mask. If it turns out they recently traveled from China, and are showing respiratory symptoms, the Centers For Disease Control recommends they be put in isolation.
Patient isolation rooms are specifically designed to keep pathogens from spreading. Special air filters allow air to flow into the room but not out, and furniture and equipment are kept to a minimum.
Doctors and other staff members entering the room wear protective equipment, including surgical gowns, medical face-masks, respirators, and two pairs of gloves.
Until more is known about coronavirus and how it spreads, hospitals will continue to exercise maximum precaution, but for the general public, the best way to prevent the spread of disease is much simpler — just remember to wash your hands.