The coronavirus has claimed yet another life, this time the life of Dr. Li Wenliang. Dr. Li wasn’t just a 34-year-old ophthalmologist in Wuhan, he was the physician who warned fellow medical school classmates in an online chatroom of an unidentified virus that was spreading that resembled Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. When Dr. Li issued the warning on December 30th, 2019, he did not know that the virus he was speaking of was what has recently been identified as the coronavirus.
After Dr. Li sent the online warning, “he was then summoned for a middle-of-the-night reprimand over his candor,” says The New York Times. Dr. Li was allegedly “forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumor.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t much later after Dr.Li’s reprimand that “thousands of Wuhan residents fell ill with fever and pneumonia symptoms.” And while the 34-year-old was treating a patient for glaucoma, he contracted the virus.
After fighting the pneumonia-like symptoms the virus carries with it, Dr. Li succumbed to the potentially deadly virus. Prior to his death, Dr. Li had told the times “If officials had disclosed information about the epidemic earlier, I think it would have been a lot better. There should be more openness and transparency.” The coronavirus has already claimed more than 600 lives and sickened more than 31,4000.
How many cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S.?
So, far there have been 12 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. The New York Times reported that there has been one case in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington, and Arizona and two cases in Illinois. So far, California has had six confirmed cases, marking this as the state with the most cases in the U.S. In an effort to contain the virus and prevent it from further spreading, the source says that several countries, including the U.S. “are limiting travel to some people who recently traveled to China, and several major airlines said they expect to halt direct service to mainland China for months.”
Although the Times says that limiting travel and performing more rigorous screenings on individuals may slow the spread of the coronavirus, it isn’t a guarantee that it will stop it from reaching more people. However, the Times does suggest that it will “buy time for the development of treatments and vaccines.”
Because there is not yet a vaccine to treat the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the best way to prevent becoming infected is to take preventative measures to reduce the chances of spreading the respiratory virus. Below are a few tips provided on behalf of the CDC:
- When washing your hands, remember to use soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. It is especially important to do so after using the restroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Be sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when your hands have not been washed.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- It is best to stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and don’t forget to throw the tissue away.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home.
In an effort to further prevent the spreading of the coronavirus, employees who fall ill should consider taking advantage of the sick time they have or even FMLA given they are eligible to use it after being diagnosed with a severe illness. Employment law attorneys remind you that FMLA can be utilized for medical reasons such as a serious health condition that prevents you from being able to perform the essential functions of your job and your employee is required to allow you to take this unpaid, job-protected leave.