Omaha doctor sent to help potential coronavirus victims debunks misconceptions

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Omaha doctor James Lawler explains his travel overseas to Japan. He was sent there to work with a medical team to check 400 cruise ship passengers for potential coronavirus.

Authorities confirmed with 6 News that a handful of people arriving at Eppley Airfield on Monday morning were transported to UNMC's National Quarantine Unit — the same place a woman quarantined for coronavirus at Camp Ashland was taken on Friday. (WOWT)

He helped bring back the 13 Americans who are now at the University Of Nebraska Medical Center. They are waiting for test results to confirm whether they have the virus.

The fatality rate of the Covid-19 virus has varied. Nebraska Medicine reports it's between 1 and 2 percent. Compare that to the flu. Last year the mortality rate was 2 percent among those who saw a doctor with the flu. That number is from the CDC.

Many of us are looking for information like that to get our arms around just what is happening with this outbreak.

“This is not a time to panic, this is a time to be deliberate and preparing for what might be an outbreak in the U.S.,” said Lawler.

Dr. James Lawler has experience with outbreak response. He was on the frontline with the Ebola outbreak. Similar to Ebola, this coronavirus outbreak is new to us and that can lead to misconceptions.

“I think we share concerns about the current outbreak and what will happen over the coming months and to be honest I don't think we know at this point,” said Lawler.

That can be scary to hear but here are some things to remember, though the outbreak is early, no Americans have died from the virus so far in the country. Most cases have been contained to China with only 15 confirmed cases in the United States.

“But I don't think that necessarily means we can sit back and relax I think we really need to prepare for a potentially large outbreak in the U.S.,” said Lawler.

Dr. Lawler says the best way to stay collected about the coronavirus is to pay attention to credible sources of information like the CDC and the world health organization.

“Sometimes when people are driven by more fear and panic the discussion becomes unproductive,” said Lawler.

When it comes to social media and the opinions of friends on Facebook, Dr. Lawler warns us, it can be unproductive and blur the lines of science and opinion.

There are still some unknowns about Covid-19. We have asked about why small children are mostly experiencing only mild symptoms. The answer to that remains unclear. The sick and elderly are most at risk.