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Can Valley hospitals handle potential coronavirus cases?

Posted at 10:51 AM, Jan 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-26 15:39:17-05

PHOENIX — With one case of the potentially deadly coronavirus already confirmed in Maricopa County, hospitals across the area are bracing for the possibility of more cases.

Since coronavirus is airborne, it's important to take measures to limit potential exposure, says medical officials.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

At Valleywise Medical Health Center, they have what are called, "negative pressure rooms," where air can enter through the hallway, but it can't go back out. Instead, it's piped through a special ventilation system.

"Think of it like a vacuum," explains Dr. Michael White. "It's like a low-level vacuum. So air is moving from the outside into the room, rather from the room out into the hallway."

RELATED: Health officials say several samples for coronavirus in Arizona have been sent to CDC

Hospital officials tells us that over the weekend, a patient came into the hospital with respiratory symptoms and had just returned from China. After testing was done, it was determined that patient did not have coronavirus.

Valleywise Health Medical Center has roughly 10 of the negative pressure rooms. If any patient exhibits respiratory symptoms, regardless if coronavirus is suspected, they're typically placed in these rooms as a precaution, according to hospital officials.

Dr. White also says he thinks the risk of Maricopa County experiencing an outbreak remains very low.

Right now, Arizona has one confirmed case and joins only three others that have confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Over the weekend, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported that patient has ties to Arizona State University. University officials have not confirmed if that person is a student, staff member, or faculty member, but we do know the patient does not live on campus. We are also told that person is under quarantine.

At ASU Wednesday, we spotted several students wearing masks, like Min Tang, who is from China, where he says his family is also taking precautions when they go outdoors.

"It just makes me feel safer I think so I don't need to worry too much about being infected by others," explains Tang.