MARSHALL (KMHL) – Fears of the spread of an outbreak of the coronavirus are growing.

Avera Marshall Physician Dr, Steven Meister tells Marshall Radio it’s not a matter of if the COVID-19 virus comes to the area, but a matter of when.

He says though the panic and fears of the virus are more because it’s new and the attention the virus is getting and not because it is so much worse than influenza.

“Most people who have died from this disease have been older and have a co-morbid medical condition, they’ve had a chronic illness,” said Meister. “It’s not going to kill everybody it touches.”

Meister says the mortality rate is a little bit higher than the mortality rate for influenza.

He adds that protecting yourself from the virus is very similar to how people should protect themselves from influenza.

“Washing hands, coughing and sneezing into your elbow or into a tissue and then throwing the tissue away and washing your hands again is a smart thing,” said Meister. “Carrying around a thing of Clorox wipes or Lysol wipes, or disinfecting wipes can really help.”

He says more importantly, if you aren’t feeling well – stay home from work and out of public places.

State health officials are awaiting test results on eight more possible cases in Minnesota.