AZ health officials say people shouldn't be worried about the coronavirus, but should be prepared

While the COVID-19 coronavirus is largely contained in the United States, officials with the CDC say it won't stay that way for long.

In fact, some communities are getting a jump start on preparations, with San Francisco becoming the first city in the country to declare a public health emergency.

In Arizona, health officials say they have been in talks with state officials.

"I think it was more of them trying to get the word out of, 'hey, this is what we're seeing and this is what to expect,'" said Dr. Cara Christ with the Arizona Department of Health.

Dr. Christ says people shouldn't be worried, but they should be prepared.

"I think what CDC was trying to communicate to have plans in place, because it's a flu-like illness, so people may need to stay home if they're sick, watch their children, keep them out of school, so plan for that," said Dr. Christ.

Dr. Christ explains the big difference between influenza and COVID-19 is that people deal with influenza every year, and there are vaccines for influenza.

"With coronavirus, we don't have a vaccine, and people have not been exposed to it before. That's what makes it scary, and we don't have the information on it," said Dr. Christ.

Meanwhile, state officials are adapting their plans, as the virus continues to spread.

"If the tests come back positive, we start working with that individual to let them know what precautions to take, to start taking a history, so we can prevent this spread," said Dr. Christ.

Dr. Christ was also asked about coronavirus kits that CDC officials say are not "working as expected."

During a briefing on Wednesday, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that when various state laboratories performed quality control tests on the kits, the labs “identified some inconclusive results.”

"Right now, we are working with the CDC. They are the only ones we are using for testing," said Dr. Christ. "We're working with them to get our lab validated, and there were issues with the primers, but the CDC is aware of them, and we're working with them to get our lab test validated."

Meanwhile, officials with Arizona State University are cancelling their study abroad programs in South Korea, after CDC announced they are elevating the country to a "Level 3" warning.

"The university is working with students to make alternate arrangements, including assistance with flight arrangements and travel plans for students already in the country," according to a university spokesperson.