As of Sunday, the total number of global coronavirus cases surpassed 105,000, including 3,500 fatalities, with at least 400 cases in the U.S. Congress approved $8.3 billion to fund a public response to the virus, while New York Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

Dr. Mehmet Oz joined The Cats Roundtable to give us an update on the steps being taken to combat the virus, as well as what you can do to help prevent your risk.

According to Dr. Oz, one of the main reasons the coronavirus is being taken so seriously is how contagious it is compared to the traditional flu virus. This contagiousness has been revealed in what is known as “community spread,” with the virus circulating for days or weeks without notice.

“If I had the flu virus, I would pass it to about 9 people,” Dr. Oz told The Cats Roundtable. “If I had the coronavirus, I would pass it to 45 people.”

He added the big risk is for individuals with compromised immune systems or other underlying health issues, including the elderly and the hospitalized, but offered a disclaimer saying that many of the answers regarding the coronavirus are yet to be found.

“I’m always concerned about giving people a false sense of security or panicking them,” he said, but believes Americans will “mobilize” in a time of crisis, telling The Cats Roundtable, “This is one of those moments.”

“I’m confident that our scientists and medical professionals will catch up to the coronavirus,” he said, but suggested a vaccine could still be 12 to 18 months away.

“We have a while to go before we’re through this dark tunnel.”

But Dr. Oz explained that individuals can take steps to take care of themselves.

Getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, or exercising every other day, can boost your immune system, while using a humidifier to improve air quality can reduce your risk.

“Viruses do not like humid air,” Dr. Oz explained.

He urged people against shaking hands or touching their own face, but washing your hands is a huge necessity.

“Focus on your fingertips,” he explained, adding the coronavirus was capable of lingering on surfaces for 9 days. You must keep your fingertips clean, that’s how the virus will get into your body, not because somebody sneezes at you.

Dr. Oz believes that a focus on supporting the institutions in place to respond to these situations is essential.

“We have been under-funding public issue areas like the CDC for a long time,” he explained, adding that to confront the virus the U.S. has to “deal with some structural problems,” which include a lack of equipment, such as ventilators and face masks, the latter of which endangers the ability of doctors to treat patients.

“We have to keep the doctors and the nurses and the hospital systems functional so we can take care of the weakest among us—and we need the masks for that.”

He added that the U.S. needs to “focus everything on how we’re going to make sure our public health system is healthy enough to cope” with the coronavirus, and beyond, calling our current response a “dry run for a bigger battle.”

Listen to the interview below

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