County on high alert for coronavirus

By OLIVIA INGLE
oingle@dcherald.com

As of 10:05 a.m. this morning, Dubois County did not have any positive cases of COVID-19 under investigation, according to a Facebook update from Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center.

The Indiana State Department of Health reports 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, statewide and 73 people have been tested in the state.

The Dubois County Health Department advises that the most up-to-date, local information on the pandemic can be found on its website here.

A press release from the department sent Thursday afternoon states that a Public Health Emergency Preparedness meeting was held earlier this week with more than 40 local agencies to aid in the coordination and mobilization of health and medical services in the event of a disaster, and to share information on the coronavirus. Each agency asked and answered questions to aid in the public health response to the virus.

Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner and Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide shared a joint letter on social media this morning informing residents that both cities are involved in conversations on a daily basis with other county agencies dealing with the coronavirus.

The letter states that while there are no confirmed cases in the county, “that could change quickly,” and all of the agencies “are doing their utmost to be prepared as possible.”

“It is our objective to protect our citizens and the effects it may have on our communities,” the mayors said. “Collaboratively we will continue to monitor and play a role in maintaining public health.”

A message from Memorial Hospital posted on the health department’s website states that the hospital “is actively preparing to identify any individuals who seek care within our organization and [who] meet the current criteria to be evaluated for the 2019 novel coronavirus.”

According to the hospital, patients and visitors will see new signs when they enter any of the hospital’s locations. The signs list the criteria for the virus and provide instructions to patients and visitors to immediately alert staff and put on a face mask.

“It is important that you call your doctor’s office or the Emergency Department before you arrive and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms,” the hospital advises. If you have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea in the last 14 days and have a fever with a cough or shortness of breath, you should alert staff immediately upon your arrival.

According to the message, the hospital has established procedures and plans for infection control and for contagious outbreaks.

“We are working closely with local state public health officials to coordinate our response to this new outbreak,” the hospital states. “We also are prepared to care for any coronavirus patients, as we deal with contagious infections every day.”

The hospital’s care plan includes: specific rooms designed with special ventilation to prevent the spread of infection, special protective equipment for clinicians and staff when treating or testing a patient, and established emergency preparedness plans to follow in the event of a large outbreak.

The best way to protect yourself from the coronavirus or any respiratory illness, Memorial advises, is to:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces.




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