Though the new coronavirus has been striking hard in places far away from North Carolina so far, the frightening and deadly virus already has local health officials, transportation officials and business leaders keeping a watchful eye and doing what they can to prepare.

On Monday, Jan. 27, Guilford County Health Director Merle Green said that her department is on alert and is coordinating with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies.

“At this point, we are deeply involved with notifications from the CDC, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, local health care institutions, local airports and others who may need further information as these situations continue to develop,” Green said.

One of the official responsibilities of the Guilford County Health Department is “communicable disease investigations,” and, Green said, the department has a lot of practice in that area.

“We are always alert and ready to take the appropriate actions whenever anything that can kill people erupts,” she said.

The new virus is certainly deadly. In China, where the outbreak is thought to have originated, it has already killed 80, and the number of confirmed cases in that country is over 2,700 and rising. Confirmed cases have also been recorded in the United States and other countries.

International businesses in Greensboro are also adjusting to the new threat. Ziehl-Abegg, a German ventilation and air conditioning company at 719 N. Regional Rd., announced on Monday that it had cancelled plans to send employees to China.

Managing Director Mirco Herrmann stated in a press release, “The health of our employees is more important than a financial benefit of the company!”

That release noted, “Two employees were ready to start in a few days to China for production trainings. Both employees and their families are very happy the flights to China are cancelled.”

Officials at Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) haven’t made any changes in operations yet, but they are watching the situation closely.

PTIA Executive Director Kevin Baker said the airport is ready to work with local health officials if the need arises.

“Obviously we’re paying close attention to it,” Baker said of the virus. “We normally take our lead from the Health Department for situations like this.”