FORT WORTH, Texas — "Precaution" is the word of the hour at MedStar Mobile Healthcare in Fort Worth, as health care providers learn more about the spread of the China-based coronavirus.
As of Friday, MedStar ambulances are now stocked with specialized protective gear, including gowns, gloves and particulate face masks that will filter out "aerosolized droplets."
And 911 dispatchers and medics alike are now asking patients with respiratory issues about where they've been.
"Our 10 o'clock conference call this morning with the CDC was where we got that advice," explained MedStar's Matt Zavadsky. "By 10:28 this morning we'd already pushed that advice and medical directive to the field staff."
Zavadsky says there's no room and no time for error right now. As of Friday, two people in the United States had confirmed cases of coronavirus, with a total of at least 63 people in the U.S. being evaluated.
"This is not a dissimilar response to how we handled the SARS situation several years ago, and in some cases is relatively similar to the Ebola crisis by doing that additional screening question," Zavadsky said.
UT Arlington is another institution that’s following the coronavirus developments very closely. A UTA spokesman told WFAA they are in touch with students who have visited or who are in China or nearby countries.
The school is gathering information on where the students went and also sending out protective guidelines to all students on the virus. So far, they haven't identified anyone who appears to be at risk.
"We have to take this seriously as a health care system and also as the public because it will not take much to have what happened in China happen here," Zavadsky said.
And if it does, they will be ready.