Health department urges calm amid coronavirus concerns

Health department urges calm amid coronavirus concerns

The Macoupin County Public Health Department understands there are concerns about novel, meaning new, coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

The COVID-19 name was given based on Co for corona, VI for virus, D for disease and 19 for 2019 being the originating year of this strand.

The health department wants to ensure residents it is working diligently to keep the residents of Macoupin County safe and informed.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses and are not new, according to the health department. A few can cause illness in people and others only infects animals. Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world and commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control identified this new coronavirus as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan City, China, since resulting in thousands of confirmed cases.

Since then, there are now a growing number of countries with positive cases, including the United States.

COVID-19 is known to cause mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath and potentially respiratory distress. There are many types of illnesses that can cause these same symptoms.

The health department encourages Macoupin County residents to remain calm and rational about this virus.

COVID-19 has been shown to spread from person to person, typically this is through the air by coughing and sneezing.

Steps for protection

Even though there is no current vaccine for COVID-19, health officials are urging the public to be diligent in doing their part to minimize exposure and to protect oneself and loved ones.

This can be done by:

1. Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 to 95 percent alcohol.

2. Avoiding the touching of eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick with respiratory symptoms. Close contact is defined as at least six feet.

4. Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 to 95 percent alcohol.

5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

6. Most importantly, stay home when sick.

Those feeling sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 you are encouraged to call a healthcare professional. To aid in minimizing exposure, please notify your healthcare professional before entering their office where other people may become exposed.

Those without a designated healthcare professional can call the Macoupin County Public Health Department at 217-854-3692 and ask for the public health nurse.

The Macoupin County Public Health Department is prepared to triage for Persons Under Investigation and offer testing in their vehicle to minimize exposure to COVID-19.

While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, there is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with COVID-19. To date, the Centers for Disease Control has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19.

Cases to date

As of Monday, March 9, the state of Illinois has had four positive cases and seven presumptive positive pending confirmation at the CDC, for a total of 11. These 11 cases include two recovered patients and nine newly diagnosed.

As of Tuesday, March 10, there were:

755 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, including 26 deaths

Macoupin County does not have any COVID-19 cases and does not have any persons under investigation, so the health risk to the residents of Macoupin County remains low.

Nurses available

Those who have additional questions regarding COVID-19, can call the Macoupin County Public Health Department at 217-854-3692 and ask for the Public Health Nurse. Questions can be sent via email to mcphd@mcphd.net.

COVID-19 questions can also be directed to the Illinois Department of Public Health Hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or by email at dph.sick@illinois.gov.