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Public Safety Alert: Coronavirus Outbreak Update

Thursday, February 13, 2020
updated March 12, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to monitor the coronavirus outbreak, now referred to as COVID-19, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

The first case in the United States was announced on Jan. 21, 2020, in Washington State. Visit the state-specific Department of Health websites for statistics for your state.

Where can I find the latest information?

For the most up-to-date information, visit www.cdc.gov/COVID19.

Find additional details at:

Why are people so worried about coronavirus?

This is a new virus, and it is creating great concern in the community. There is not a vaccine for this novel virus yet, and we do not have a specific medicine to treat it. An effective vaccine is most likely 12–18 months away. Also, the coronavirus is contagious – similar to the flu. Most people who become infected with the coronavirus have a mild illness or may not even have any symptoms.

What can I do now to protect myself and decrease the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu?

  • Stay informed. 
  • Wash your hands. 
    • Washing your hands is the most effective means of not getting infected and preventing the spread of most viral illnesses.
    • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty and immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Practice good hygiene.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your face, especially your nose, mouth and eyes.
    • Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces, such as handles, countertops and objects frequently and thoroughly.
    • Avoid close contact with other sick people.
  • Get all recommended vaccinations, including the flu vaccine.
  • Only wear a facemask if a healthcare professional recommends it. 

If you are concerned you may have COVID-19 or you have been in contact with someone with the virus:

  • Seek medical advice.
    • Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. 
    • Tell your doctor about recent travel and your symptoms. 
    • If your primary doctor is not available, TRICARE beneficiaries can go to any TRICARE-authorized urgent care center or if necessary, an emergency department.
    • If you need health advice, the Military Health System’s Nurse Advice Line is available 24/7 by phone, web chat or video chat to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries. 
  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Contact your local public health department as soon as practical. 
  • Learn more at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

Does TRICARE cover telemedicine?

Some providers may offer telemedicine as an alternative to coming into the office. TRICARE covers medically-necessary telemedicine services when all criteria are met. Learn more at www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices.  

What can I do while I’m sick to prevent the spread to others?

For those planning travel to abroad to affected countries:

  • View the CDC’s current travel notice and FAQs.

For travelers already in affected countries where the virus may be present:

  • View the CDC's current travel notice and FAQs.

For travelers returning from areas with the virus:

United States residents who travel to other countries where this outbreak has occurred may be screened upon re-entry to the US. 

Certain military installations have been selected as potential U.S. quarantine sites.



Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html