PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The coronavirus is already so widespread that it is comparable to a wildfire, according to the co-director of Tgen North.
"This is actually spreading more in our community rapidly than it was before."
"Unlike a wildfire, we can't just put it out. The best we can do is try to keep it at a low burn because it's just going to keep going. The virus is like water. It finds the cracks, and it's just going to continue to move around no matter what we do," said David Engelthaler, PhD. In addition to his role at Tgen, Engelthaler is the former epidemiologist for the state of Arizona.
Engelthaler says the best we can do is focus on protecting those who are most at risk of getting sick and dying. They include senior citizens, who are over the age of 70, and people with serious health conditions.
Some hospitals are calling in help from other states.
The the fatality rate in that group can surpass 15%, according to Engelthaler.
He says we need more testing of caregivers, and we need to re-evaluate how those caregivers interact with the vulnerable population.
But because of the work at Tgen and other research facilties across country and around the world, effective treatments and even a vaccine may be right around the corner.
"We're trying a lot of things. I think we're going to see some new antiviral drugs by this fall," said Engelthaler.