AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – As the pace of reported coronavirus (COVID-19) cases accelerates across the United States, events that bring many people together are being canceled. Austin, Texas officials canceled the South by Southwest Festival for the first time in 34 years. More than 400,000 people from 100 different countries attended the festival last year.  And numerous sporting and other events are being canceled as well.

Ken Macklin, an Alabama Extension poultry science specialist, said that reducing contacts in the community can help limit the spread of viral diseases like coronavirus.

“It’s called social distancing,” Macklin said. “By reducing the contacts among people and increasing the physical distance between people who are interacting, we can reduce the risks of person to person transmission.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists believe the disease spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

COVID-19 Changing

Additionally, Chinese researchers have discovered that COVID-19, the coronavirus causing the current outbreak, has developed into two distinct strains.

“COVID-19 is a virus. All viruses have the potential to mutate,” said Macklin, who is also an Auburn University professor. “Mutations are one reason that new flu vaccines have to be developed annually.”

Prepare Now

While it is not possible to predict the extent to which COVID-19 will impact the U.S., Barbara Struempler, Alabama Extension assistant director for family and consumer sciences, said people should prepare for the possibility of a quarantine affecting their families.

“Be prepared by having a plan,” Struempler said.  “Take some time to ensure that you have adequate supplies of food for both your family and pets as well as any medications your family takes. Set up electronic banking to pay bills and automatically make deposits into bank accounts.”

Alabama Extension Resources

All of these resources are available in the content piece An Informational Guide to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Residents can share all of the Alabama Extension resources on coronavirus with this one link.

More Information

For the latest information on COVID-19, as well as best practices for avoiding contamination during a potential community outbreak, visit the CDC’s coronavirus disease 2019 website.

For the latest information related to Alabama, visit the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website.


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As the Bibb County Coordinator for Alabama Extension, Matthew D. Hartzell coordinates the implementation of all Extension programs in Bibb County in many program areas. These program areas include 4-H and Youth Development, Animal Sciences, Food Safety and Quality, Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, Family and Child Development, Family Resource Management and Workforce Development, Commercial Horticulture, Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, Farm and Agribusiness Management, and Community and Economic Development. Hartzell has served in his current position for 12 years and held primary program assignments in Community and Economic Development, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, and Forestry Wildlife and Natural Resources.

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