World Ag Expo prepares for coronavirus

While the virus is a threat to people in China, the flu remains more of a threat to people in the U.S.

By Kaitlin Washburn

TULARE COUNTY – The World Ag Expo starts next week, bringing thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world to Tulare to learn about the latest in agriculture commodities, equipment and technology.

Concerns over the coronavirus — a virus that has taken hundreds of lives in Wuhan, China — have reached International Agri-Center officials, who are currently considering how to prepare and safeguard attendees at the Expo, a three-day event that starts Tuesday.

“The health and safety of everyone at our show is our top priority,” Agri-Center CEO Jerry Sinift said in a news release. “We’re working with the right agencies to stay up-to-date on the status of coronavirus and how we can prevent the spread.”

According to the release, the Agri-Center is working with local, state and federal officials to develop a plan for the expo, but currently there have been no changes made to the event schedule.

Dr. Karen Haught, the Tulare County health officer, recommended that attendees should take the same precautions they should be taking during flu season, which remains far more of a threat to Americans than the coronavirus.

“Precautions include hand washing, covering coughs, staying home if ill, and contacting a physician if symptoms arise. Travelers who become ill should contact the local health department where they are staying,” Haught said in the release.

In China, 425 people have been killed by the respiratory virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 11 confirmed cases — and zero coronavirus deaths — in the U.S., six of which are in California.

So far this flu season, 19 million people have been infected with the influenza, according to the CDC. Since October of last year, 10,000 Americans have died from the flu, 211 of which were from California, according to federal and state data.

County, state and federal health officials continue to recommend that people get their flu shot, wash their hands frequently, sneeze or cough into the crook of their elbow and avoid contact with ill people.

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