Tucson implements health protocols for gem show amid Coronavirus concerns

City officials in Tucson and other agencies have discussed logistics and health protocols for an annual gem and mineral show in southern Arizona amid concerns about the spread of the deadly virus from China.

The city of Tucson and the Pima County Health Department met Monday to discuss the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase and how to calm public fears that visitors could carry in the virus.

“We discussed what’s going to be our preparedness plan in case we see folks who have traveled to China,” said Andy Squire, a city spokesperson and one of the showcase organizers. “That really is the issue.”

Visitors, buyers, vendors and owners across the world, including from China, are expected to come for the show, which begins Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 16. Last year, about 65,000 people visited the show.

It is unclear how many of the vendors may have traveled to China in recent months.

“We feel the risk is very low the most important concern is we would have is if someone has traveled to that area and they are returning,” county health deputy director Paula Mandel told KVOA-TV. “But people who are out and about in there normal daily life the transmission risk is very low.”

Showcase visitors have no more reason to worry about the virus than they do the flu, Squire said.

Health officials urge people to cover their coughs, wash their hands and stay home from work and visit the doctor if feeling ill. Symptoms include a runny nose and sore throat, Mandel said.

There have been at least five confirmed reported cases of the virus in the U.S., including one in Arizona, health officials said.

As of Thursday, health officials have confirmed the virus is responsible for the deaths of 170 people in China.

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