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Weekly Address — February 13, 2020

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

No one in Arkansas has tested positive for the coronavirus, but public health officials have a plan in place to prevent the spread of the deadly disease.

Health Department officials reported on the state's preparations to the Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

Hospitals have plans for keeping patients in quarantine. Health laboratories across the state have been equipped with testing kits.

Medical experts are training lab workers to make sure they know how to conduct testing for the coronavirus.

It's vitally important that health officials know if someone has just returned from a trip to China, so they can monitor their health. The coronavirus has a two-week incubation period, so medical teams want to closely watch the health of anyone from China over the entire 14 days.

The news stories can be rather alarming, but it's important to keep in mind that the mortality rate is from 2 to 3 percent. That makes it less deadly than other outbreaks, such as the SARS virus of 2003.

Between 20 and 30 percent of the people who catch the coronavirus will become seriously ill, and will require intensive hospital treatment.

Since it will take at least a year to develop and test an effective vaccine against the virus, public health officials are focusing on preventing its spread. One cause for concern is how rapidly it has been spreading. As of Monday, there were 12 reported cases in the U.S.

The U.S. is responding with very strict travel restrictions. In fact, Health Department officials told legislators that current travel restrictions to and from China are stricter than they were for any previous outbreak.

As we learn more about the virus, we're better able to prevent its spread and treat its symptoms.

From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.

Thanks to advances in communication technology, such as the Internet and smartphones, our response to the coronavirus has been much, much faster than it was when the SARS virus broke out.


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