With all of the information floating around about the novel coronavirus (now named COVID-19), here is some recent information available and links to relevant sites that you may want to bookmark for the most accurate and updated information.
First, when compared to influenza for the 2019-2020 season, the prevalence of COVID-19 pales in comparison:  As of 21 Feb, US News and World Report (https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-02-21/flu-season-thats-sickened-26-million-may-be-at-its-peak ) stated that in the U.S. over 26 million have been ill with flu-like symptoms this flu season, 250,000 have been hospitalized and at least 14,000 have died.
When you compare that with COVID-19 (as of 26 Feb) according to the World Health Organization, in the US there have been 60 cases so far with no deaths.  (The World Health Organization Situation Report from 26 Feb has confirmed cases of 81,109 and deaths at 2718) The majority of the cases in the U.S. originated from either someone that had recently arrived from China or were aboard the Princess cruise ship in quarantine in Japan (42 cases).  With the recent emergence of clusters of COVID-19 cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran, the potential for the spread of the disease in the U.S. over the coming weeks increases.  To get a sense of the rapidity at which the virus has spread in South Korea, and what we in the U.S. may be in for in the near future, here is a graph from Channelnewsasia.com:
The main concerns with COVID-19 arise because one, it is a new virus that originated in an animal (W.H.O. states bats, but it is believed that the virus jumped the species barrier to humans from another intermediate animal host. This intermediate animal host could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal, or a domesticated wild animal which has not yet been identified) and spread to humans (and now has human to human transmission – all pretty rare for a virus).  Two, there is no vaccine for the virus and one report stated it is not expected to arrive on the market for another 12 to 18 months.  Three, someone with COVID-19 can be contagious from 2 to 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms, so someone can transmit the disease before they even know they have it.  Four, the COVID-19 virus is more lethal than the flu, with a mortality rate calculated at the current numbers as between 1% and 4%.  The mortality rate seems to vary by region, health care infrastructure of the county involved and how quickly a diagnosis is made.
In an NPR segment this past Tuesday, 25 Feb, the reporter stated that around 80% to 85% of individuals contracting COVID-19 suffer only mild to moderate symptoms.  Though there are some outliers, most deaths occur in the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.
For us, though, as can be seen in the market drops Monday and Tuesday, there is concern of the impact of the disease in supply chains, especially with our clients that receive products (or export) internationally and for the potential impact to domestic business sales.  The dramatic measures taken to control the disease negatively impact business operations worldwide. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Tuesday that “the disruption of daily life might be severe.”  Sometimes it might not be the severity of the disease that impacts us and our organizations the most, but the response of the public and measures taken by government entities and large organizations to help control the disease, that will have the most significant impact.
So, with all that being said, what can we expect and what can we do at this point to protect ourselves and our businesses.   First, be aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease, which are pretty generic and similar to those of the influenza virus:  Fever. Cough. Shortness of Breath.  If you, or someone close to you, experiences these signs and symptoms, follow the guidance from the CDC here.
An article from Business Insider from 22 Feb. (A day-by-day breakdown of coronavirus symptoms shows how the disease, COVID-19, goes from bad to worse) gives an overview of how the disease progresses on a day by day countdown.
Recommendations from the CDC regarding prevention steps include:

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.


CNN also provides this guidance for measures to take to prevent transmission within a workplace: How you and your workplace can protect yourselves from the novel coronavirus
For current updates on the status of COVID-19 domestically and worldwide, refer to these sites:
By Mark R. Lupo, MBCP, SMP