Douglas County, Mo. – Around Missouri communities are working to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Some are canceling events and closing schools. The Douglas County Health Department, Douglas County Presiding Commissioner, and the Ava City Mayor understands the community is concerned and may be confused about the best way to prevent the pandemic from spreading locally.
The Douglas County Presiding Commissioner, Lance Stillings, Ava City Mayor Burrely Loftin, and Douglas County Health Department Administrator Valerie Reese are following guidance from the CDC and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to make local recommendations.
“It is very difficult at this point to know when the pandemic will reach our community and when is the best time to start canceling events and closing schools,” says administrator Valerie Reese. “We want to get ahead of the pandemic and slow its spread, but we also want to work with our partners to make the best possible decisions for our community.”
“Regardless of whether events are canceled or schools close, our community members can be taking simple steps to help protect themselves and our whole community,” adds Reese. “Wash hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching the face with unclean hands. Keep a distance from people who are sick. Stay home when sick and keep sick children home from school or daycare.”
The CDC agrees these are the best ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which is passed from person to person on droplets from a sick person’s cough or sneeze. These droplets travel through the air where they are breathed in by another person, or they land on surfaces or items that another person touches. Keeping a distance of at least 8 feet from someone sick and washing hands often helps prevent this virus from spreading.
“Since the virus is new and our bodies have no immunity to it, we know that it will likely spread quickly through our community, once it arrives,” says Reese. “We can slow down that spread by staying home when sick, washing hands and wiping down contaminated surfaces with a bleach wipe.”
The Health Department also urges anyone who may have symptoms of the coronavirus – a fever over 100.4° F, a cough, shortness of breath, or a sore throat – to call the Missouri hotline at 877-435-8411 or call their healthcare provider before going in to the doctor’s office. The hotline can ask screening questions to determine the actual likelihood that they symptoms are COVID-19 rather than seasonal flu or a cold. The doctor’s office can prepare before a person’s arrival, so that if it is COVID-19, the patient doesn’t spread it to others in the waiting room.
The CDC reports that some people with COVID-19 will have a very mild illness. Others may be sick, but not have any symptoms at all. A few people in every community, though, will be at higher risk of getting very sick, and even dying. Older adults and people of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes so far have been at higher risk of developing serious illness with COVID-19.
“We have people in our community who are at higher risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19,” adds Reese. “That’s why we have to be very thoughtful about the decisions we make in an effort to protect these members of our community – our friends and neighbors. We trust everyone in our community wants to do the same.”