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South Coast Health Expert Says Coronavirus Not In Region Now, But Expect Many More Cases In U.S.


One of the South Coast’s leading public health experts says he expects the coronavirus crisis to grow in the United States, but so far there are no confirmed cases in our region. Dr. Robert Levin is Ventura County’s Public Health Officer. Word that Naval Base Ventura County is serving as a quarantine spot for incoming airline passengers who might be at risk has created some concern for county residents.

But, Levin says neither base personnel nor the public are at risk, because the quarantine area is off limits to all but federal health experts.

The Ventura County health official talks about this stain of the virus is related to others in the coronavirus family. Levin says it was nearly two decades ago when more potent, and dangerous strains of the virus surfaced. They included SARS and MERS. He says so far, they have had a much higher mortality rate than the current strain, which is technically known as COVID-19.

Levin says with symptoms similar to more common kinds of flu, coronavirus can be hard to diagnose. He says the mortality rate from it might actually turn out to be much lower, with some of the deaths linked to it turning out to be a more common form of influenza.

Levin cautions the U.S. will probably see a surge in cases as the virus continues to spread around the world. He says that’s why efforts like the quarantine of the airline passenger at Naval Base Ventura County are important, to try to do what’s possible to prevent its spread.

Levin believes we are at least a year, and more likely two years away from a readily available vaccine to treat coronavirus.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral. 
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