Hospitals In Mass. Say Coronavirus Concerning, But Easier To Get The Flu

Feb 5, 2020

Some western and central Massachusetts hospitals say they've checked out people for coronavirus, but so far, there's been no positive cases.

UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester has had 20 or so calls about coronavirus.

That's according to Doctor Richard Ellison, an epidemiologist at the hospital.

"There have been a number of people in the biomedical industry fields who have been traveling to China," Ellison said. "Also, some students have been in China, and are returning to the area, where questions have come up."

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton said it's had several calls from people concerned about coronavirus, but only a handful of visits to the emergency room.

Linda Riley, the hospital's infection prevention manager, said the chances are much higher to get another illness right now: the flu.

"Over 10,000 people have died from the flu. Nowhere near that have died from coronavirus," Riley said. "The flu is by far the greater risk right now."

Baystate Medical, which operates hospitals across western Massachusetts, said it is screening patients' travel histories when determining which illness they might have.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said there's still just one confirmed case of coronavirus in Massachusetts, and that the risk to residents remains low.