Boyd Hoddinott, health commissioner, encourages all of us to dust off emergency and/or pandemic plans and review/update as needed.
“As of (Feb. 24, 2020), the outbreak has been declared a public health emergency by the U.S. and the World Health Organization,” according to a message on logancountyhealth.org. “ODH has issued a health alert, and Amy Acton, MD, MPH, Director of ODH, has declared COVID-19, a Class-A reportable infectious disease. This means any confirmed or possible case must be reported immediately to a local health district, which will report it to ODH. It will then be reported to the CDC. Required reporters include health care providers, laboratory administrators, and any individuals having knowledge of a person with COVID-19.”
“COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. Symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose and difficulty breathing. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization.
“We remain ready. ODH and the Logan County Health District are actively working with health care providers to identify possible cases of COVID-19 and to continue 24/7 monitoring, prevention, and control for all infectious diseases. The risk to the general public remains low. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection. The CDC is working on this. While coronavirus disease 2019 is of serious concern, it is far more likely that Ohioans will contract flu than COVID-19.”
According to the Center for Disease Control’s website: “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and many different species of animals including camels, cattle, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The Virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading from person-to-person in China and some limited person-to-person transmission has been reported in countries outside China, including the United States. However, respiratory illnesses like season influenza are currently widespread in many U.S. communities.”
Some CDC recommended strategies for employers include:
• encouraging sick employees to stay home;
• separate sick employees;
• emphasize the need for sick employees to stay home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene;
• perform routine environmental cleaning; and
• advise employees before traveling with certain steps.
Some other advice comes from The Washington Post’s “How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask),” by Reis Thebault, Alex Horton and Lateshia Beachum.
One of the themes of the story regarded the importance of staying calm.
“Timothy Brewer is a professor of epidemiology and medicine at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and its David Geffen School of Medicine, yet his central piece of advice is not exactly medical,” the story said. “’Don’t panic,’ he said. ‘There’s no value in panicking or telling people to be afraid. Don’t let fear and emotion drive the response to this virus. That can be extremely difficult because it is new, and we’re still learning about it, but don’t allow fear of what we don’t know about the virus to overwhelm what we do know.’”
Thebault, Horton and Beachum also included a note about watching what you read.
“While coronavirus is spreading rapidly, so is misinformation about it,” they wrote. “(Saskia) Popescu (senior infection-prevention epidemiologist for a Phoenix-based hospital system) and other experts call this an ‘infodemic,’ and it can be as harmful as any disease.”
The story also gave the following advice: being mindful of where you are and keeping you distance from people who are sick; and getting the flu shot.
The Logan County Health District has some additional resource links on its web page at loganhealth.org.