Why Spokane? Your questions about the coronavirus, answered

SPOKANE, Wash. — The transfer of four coronavirus patients to Sacred Heart had many Spokane people fearing for their own safety on Thursday. 

Hundreds of people commented on the 4 news Now Facebook page, voicing concern. 

Below are your most common frustrations, and the facts to answer them. 

Q: So, why Spokane?

Sacred Heart Medical Center is one of 10 hospitals in the country equipped with a Special Pathogens Unit. 

Remember the Ebola outbreak in 2014? Congress gave funding to help prepare our hospitals to fight back against extremely contagious diseases. 

Sacred Heart applied for that funding and was awarded $2.1 million to build the unit, train staff, and run ongoing drills

Q: Why can’t these patients go to other hospitals? 

Think about it like this: If someone from the Inland Northwest is severely burned, we send them to Harborview, which has a regional burn center. 

The Spokane Pathogen Unit was designed specifically for unique diseases like the coronavirus. 

Another center in Omaha, Nebraska, is currently treating patients, too. 

Q: Can the virus get out of Sacred Heart and into the community? 

Health officials say the risk of the illness spreading to the public remains low. 

The patients being cared for at Sacred Heart are completely isolated, and hospital staff working with them have trained for instances like this. 

Your best bet is to protect yourself. 

You can do so by avoiding close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 

Lastly, make sure to wash your hands! 

Bottom line? Health officials say your risk of getting the coronavirus is no greater than it was before the patients arrived.