Augusta, GA (WJBF)- Cases of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, are increasing globally, including here in the US. Currently there are no cases here in the CSRA, but that could be just a matter of time.

There are a lot of rumors floating around about COVID-19 and how dangerous it may or may not be.

Augusta University’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Phillip Coule says, those most at risk are those who have pre-existing health conditions known as immunocompromised, meaning their bodies are incapable of fighting illness as well as a healthy person.

Some examples of people with diminished immune systems are those with cancer, HIV, and those on medications to suppress the immune system… also the elderly. Being a senior citizen is considered an immunocompromised state.

Dr. Coule tells us “Immonocompromised people such as the elderly or those who are on these medications to help suppress the immune system or because they have cancer causes them not to be able to fight viral infections or bacterial infections as well.

Meagan White is an Augusta native currently living in Snohomish County, Washington, the epicenter of the US Coronavirus outbreak. She is at risk because of asthma. She told us in an online interview that “I am trying to take what precautions the CDC and local health officials recommend, but you never know if it will be enough to protect you.”

Since the vast majority of Americans don’t have serious underlying medical conditions, Dr. Coule tells us that most people who contract the Coronavirus have little to worry about.

“80-81% have minimal to no symptoms at all. It’s only about 15% that become severely ill and may require hospitalization; and only 5% of those will become critically ill. And then only about 2% of those may die from the disease. Those generally are the ones who have been immunocompromised and have a lot of chronic medical conditions.”

He said that following good cough and sneeze etiquette as well as hand washing are vital. Dr. Coule emphasizes the misinformation about using face masks.

“I think it’s important for people to understand that when someone is ill, when they come into a hospital setting and we put a mask on them, that is effective for the short term. Wearing a mask out in public has no proven benefit whatsoever. ”

Dr. Coule also says to stay at home if you are sick, Keeping yourself out of work or school goes a long way to keeping others around you healthy.

“Going out into public, what it just a cold for you, whether it’s COVID-19 or whether it’s influenza, can be fatal to someone that is immunocompromised.”