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An expert on pandemics is urging people take COVID-19 seriously

Posted at 10:17 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-11 01:17:01-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — An expert on pandemics is urging people take COVID-19 seriously. They are currently gathering samples to test for evidence of the coronavirus in his lab.

“We will be using this to see if we can find trace evidence of the genetic material on surfaces people are touching,” Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Michael Worobey.

Worobey led a study on the Spanish Flu virus that killed 20 to 50 million people about 100 years ago.

“This outbreak I dont think is going to look quite as bad, but it is looking like a really serious outbreak.”

Worobey says the coronavirus is very different from the influenza virus that broke out in 1918.
Young adults were hit the hardest then, but the coronavirus is most deadly among older patients.
But Worobey doesn't want people to be complacent.

“This is much more serious than a bad flu, this has the capacity to kill many more people than die even in the most severe seasonal influenza years.”

Worobey says important lessons were learned in 1918. Cities that imposed social distancing measures were able to slow the spread down and give healthcare systems a chance to respond.

“They had a much better time of it because they were able to spread it out over a longer haul and I think that will be important for this pandemic.”

Worobey says the same age old methods protect from infectious disease. Quarantine the sick, limit exposure, and wash your hands.

The professor told us the flu shot won't protect against the coronavirus, but could keep help decrease the demand on their healthcare system and reduce the spread in hospitals.