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Worry less about the coronavirus and more about the common flu, doctor says

There have been roughly 19 million cases of the flu and about 10,000 deaths. There have been 20,000 cases of the coronavirus — a majority of which are in China.

MODESTO, Calif. — All the buzz at the Inspire Barbering and Cosmetology school in Stockton is about the coronavirus. Donaldo Cervantes, one of the school’s barber students, said he doesn't believe calls to beware of the virus are overblown.

Part of the reason is there is no specific treatment or vaccine for the potentially deadly illness. But another reason is that there are now six confirmed cases of the coronavirus in four California counties.

"Hearing it just yesterday that it's actually entering over here in our area," Cervantes said. "So, it's pretty scary."

Devon Dean, a mother of five, is also concerned. As is florist Allison Camara.

"There have been hundreds of people dying, and now it's right here in Northern California," said Dean, who is Director & CEO of the Inspire Academy of Barbering and Cosmetology school in Stockton. "So, I think taking all the precautions necessary is very important to keeping up safe."

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Camara noted the various precautions, adding, "A lot of people in public wearing masks and I see them shopping wearing masks more than I have ever seen."

As of Monday, more than 20,000 cases of the virus of been confirmed in more than two dozen countries, most of which are in China where the virus originated. There have been 426 deaths — 425 in China and one in the Philippines.

There have only been 11 confirmed cases stateside —six in California, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Massachusetts.

The federal government has already begun quarantines at California military bases for Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated.

But is it time for all California residents to worry?

Stanislaus County's Public Health Officer Dr. Julie Vaishampayan said while the Coronavirus is a concern, she encourages people not to worry right now.

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"There isn't general spread in the community. There isn't,” Dr. Vaishampayan said. “You're not going to get this walking down the street. You're not going to get this at work.”

What is more of an immediate concern right now? Dr. Vaishampayan said it’s the common flu.

So far this flu season, there have been roughly 19 million cases of the flu, 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths in America, which includes 68 children, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Seasonal flu epidemics cause upwards to 5 million severe cases every year and kill up to 650,000 people yearly, according to the World Health Organization.

"And you can still get your flu shot," Dr. Vaishampayan. "We have a vaccine for flu. We have some treatment options. So, for flu, you can still get your vaccine. It's not too late."

To help prevent the spread of the flu or Coronavirus, the CDC recommends basic sanitary steps like washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and sneezing or coughing into your sleeve.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Kurt Rivera.

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