Don't panic, but be prepared: Coronavirus 101 for Michiganders

When it comes to the coronavirus, here's the advice: don't panic, but be prepared. We all have questions and a Henry Ford infectious disease expert has answers. 

Here's the good news. It looks like most people who get coronavirus, or as it's being called now COVID-19, will be okay. It's certain populations that are at higher risk. 

"The ones that are affected more severely are the elderly or those that have a lot of preexisting medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, that sort of thing," says Dr. Geehan Suleyman, the medical director of infection prevention at Henry Ford Medical. 

You probably see pictures of people in other counties wearing masks when it comes to coronavirus. Is that something we should be doing here? 

Right now, Dr. Suleyman isn't recommending the general population to wear masks. The masks only come into play for those that are sick, or if you know you are going to be having close contact with someone who is sick. 

In fact, she says wearing masks arbitrarily can lead to a shortage of masks in the area that could be harmful later on when it is necessary. 

As hospitals all over the world are preparing plans to contain the spread, what can we do in our daily lives to protect ourselves? It's the same advice you get to avoid the flu. 

"Avoid close contact with sick people; if you are sick to cover up your cough or sneeze on your sleeve or with a tissue; wash your hands frequently ideally with soap and water at least for 20 seconds. If you don't have access to a sink, you can do a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol, and if you're sick to stay home. And minimize your movement."

And while coronavirus is not as widespread as the flu yet, it is proving to be more deadly with similar symptoms of fever and cough that are transmitted the same way. 

"It's transmitted either through cough or sneeze, what we call droplets. And usually, it's close contact that exposes you to the virus."

If you have exposure history, such as through travel or contact with someone who is sick, Dr. Suleyman recommends calling your primary care provider before showing up unannounced to get tested. 

"That way we minimize the risk of exposure to other people."

In-state testing just recently became available in Michigan, which means test results will be ready in just a few hours. 

You can get the latest coronavirus news in Michigan at