ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Coronavirus outbreak continues to grow.
There are now more than 170 cases reported in at least 19 states. While New Mexico is not one of those states, people here are still not ruling out the possibility. “It is definitely something we are aware of and paying attention to,” Albuquerque resident Brian Hoffman said.
“I am chilling,” Albuquerque resident Phillip Cordova said. “I am not worried about it.” Even though there has not been a confirmed case in the state, local school districts and cities are taking precautions.
“I think people are freaking out,” Albuquerque resident Tina Martinez said.
Even some local Starbucks locations have signs out saying they are temporarily suspending the use of personal reusable cups to help prevent the spread of the virus. “It is an epidemic and scaring people,” Albuquerque resident Isaac Alderete said.
But how much do New Mexicans really need to worry? “There is no reason to be really worried if it is not nearby you,” UNM Viral Immunologist Steven Bradfute said. Bradfute studies the virus and said people should be concerned but should not panic. He compared the virus to the flu.
“We are used to influenza,” Bradfute said. “We live with it, so it is not something that scares us as much. With this virus, it is new, different and spreads rapidly. With social media and everything else, people know more about these things than they did in the past.”
While he said people are more likely to get the flu than Coronavirus, Bradfute said Coronavirus is more deadly. “The lethality rate for influenza is .1 percent,” Bradfute said. “Coronavirus is 2 or 3 percent.”
However, he said Coronavirus is less widespread. Plus, 80 percent of the cases are mild. “That is why there is concern about this virus because it does cause more disease, but it is not as widespread,” Bradfute said. Overall, he said the risk to New Mexico is very low. “I am not concerned at all,” Martinez said.
However, he said that is subject to change if the virus continues to spread. “Just don’t panic,” Cordova said. “Live life how it is. We can’t stop it if it is going to come.”
The health department said so far, they have tested 10 people for Coronavirus in New Mexico. All were negative. Those most at risk are the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.