GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As concerns over the coronavirus continue, Dr. Russell Lampen, infectious disease division chief at Spectrum Health, weighs in on the situation. 

Though the U.S. death toll for the coronavirus rose to 11 people on Wednesday, Lampen said the spread is still limited.

“There haven’t been any cases in the state of Michigan at all and I think the overall risk to individuals in the general public is extremely low,” he said.


During a White House briefing Wednesday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence said test kits for the virus will become more readily available and affordable for Americans. 

“Our objective ultimately and as quickly as possible is to have tests made through these commercial laboratories and commercial providers that your local doctor, your CVS, your MedCheck is able to have a coronavirus test,” Pence said. “That isn’t there yet. We’re working to make that a reality. “

Lampen said increased testing will likely lead to a spike in the number of confirmed cases. 

“I suspect as more tests are performed, we’re going to find more cases,” he said. “I think that’s what we’re seeing in Washington state right now. They’re running more tests and they’re finding more people who have infections, so there may be people that have had low-level infections here that have yet to be tested or diagnosed and we’ll probably begin to pick up some of those cases as we increase the number of testing.”

Lampen said there’s still no cause for alarm as 80% of coronavirus cases are mild and require little to no medical intervention or hospitalization. 

For those who are at risk of developing more severe and possibly fatal symptoms, Lampen said the increased testing can help health professionals better track and contain the virus from spreading. 

“It certainly appears that there’s a greater effort to increase the number of tests to make sure we’re not seeing this virus circulating the community,” he said. 


Lampen said there’s little to no data that shows wearing a mask will prevent you from contracting the coronavirus. 

“Measures like washing your hands or coughing into your elbow are going to be far more effective (than wearing a mask),” Lampen said. 

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, also touched on this during Wednesday’s briefing at the White House. 

“We need these n-95 masks for the healthcare workers that are taking care of these patients,” Redfield said. “We do not recommend them to be used by the general public.”