As the coronavirus story continues to unravel, we are big believers in battling fear with information. We are committed to checking in with the people who are working locally to prepare for the coronavirus if and when it arrives here on the SouthCoast.

Dr. Eliesel Lacerda De La Cruz, the chairman of the Infectious Disease Prevention department at Southcoast Hospitals, believes that it is very likely that the coronavirus will pop up here on the SouthCoast.

While the new cases in Rhode Island this week are concerning, Dr. Lacerda De La Cruz is more troubled by some of the cases this week in California where people were diagnosed with the virus without a direct link to someone who traveled abroad to an affected area. This means that they seemingly contracted the virus in the general public, which is more significant.

"How does this all end?" we asked the doctor. "The EEE virus ended after the first hard frost. How does the coronavirus season end?"

"It's just too early to tell how this ends," said Dr. Lacerda De La Cruz. "There is some thought that the cold weather helps the virus live longer, therefore prolonging the time that someone could be exposed to it."

Therefore, there is some thought that warmer temperatures might bring a reprieve, but it is just too early in the game to know for sure. That's one of the challenges of dealing with a brand new virus.

The doctor stressed again, just as he has in the past, that washing your hands often is the best defense against getting sick. He says that while he understands his situation is unique, he personally washes his hands hundreds of times a day.

He recommends the CDC's website as a useful resource to people who are wondering whether or not it is safe to travel abroad.

Finally, the doctor urges anyone who is feeling sick to STAY HOME. This is not the time to tough out an illness. People are more susceptible to picking up the coronavirus with a weakened immune system that happens when they are already sick.

Dr. Lacerda De La Cruz estimates that a vaccine for the coronavirus is probably how this story eventually wraps up, but that it may take a solid year (or likely more) before we are seeing mass production for humans.

He also agrees that while the fatality rate of coronavirus is a bit higher than the standard flu, it could be because the number of coronavirus cases is being underreported. He believes this could be because some people with mild symptoms stayed home and never saw their doctor.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app