MISSION VIEJO (CBSLA) — As cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, grow in the U.S., Orange County hospitals are ready to isolate and treat a potential outbreak.

Doctors in Orange County say that, as far as they know, they have not treated anyone with coronavirus, but they believe it’s just a matter of time before they do.

“A lot of people have already been calling us and warning us, ‘hey. I’ve been to Italy, I’ve been to China. And I think I might have coronavirus,’” said Dr. Jim Keany, a doctor in Mission Hospital’s emergency room.

So Mission Hospital has made itself ready. Signs ask patients to tell the nurse if they’ve been exposed to anyone with coronavirus or if they have traveled to certain areas.

The hospital has set up a separate respiratory waiting area where patients can wait with masks on to avoid infecting others. Potential coronavirus patients can then be treated in a room with negative air flow, where the air will not circulate out into the hospital.

The only limitation is that there are only 20 seats in the isolated waiting room and only two patients at a time can be treated in the negative ventilation room.

“Mission is very prepared for an outbreak,” Dr. Keany said. “On the other hand, when you get to a level where all of a sudden there’s a huge number in the community, then it is difficult to isolate and manage that in any setting.”

In that event, Mission Hospital is ready to turn an isolated part of the hospital into a treatment area and set up tents to handle more patients, much like what Orange County Global Medical Center has prepared to do. The Santa Ana hospital also has a phone outside its emergency room, so patients with symptoms of coronavirus don’t need to walk in and risk infecting others.

“I think the biggest misinformation is that if you catch this, you’re gonna die, you know. It’s just not true,” Dr. Keany said. “It does have a significant death rate, when you’re talking about 10 percent of the world getting sick and maybe two percent of those having a bad outcome from that. But overall, most people are going to do very well when they get this illness.”

Dr. Keany said his biggest concern is the amount of time it takes to get the COVID-19 test back from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The lag time between test and results right now takes days, but should take hours, he said.

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