Moffat County, MRH officials taking precautionary steps in light of positive tests of coronavirus in Colorado
After seeing the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Colorado rise to eight over the weekend, Moffat County health officials and Memorial Regional Health staff, are working to educate and prepare residents about the fast-spreading virus.
Six of those eight cases were directly related to overseas travel, said Dr. Brian Harrington, public medical officer for Routt and Moffat counties. However, two of the cases are still under investigation, but Harrington was quick to note that no Colorado cases have yet been designated as “community transmission.” Community transmission means infections within a population are not imported from another virus-hit area.
Friday afternoon, Memorial Regional Health Emergency Preparedness/Infection Preventionist/HIPAA Compliance Officer Steve Hilley held an informative coronavirus seminar at the hospital for staff, educating them about the virus itself, while also informing them of best practices to follow moving forward.
During Wednesday morning’s Board of County Commissioner’s meeting, Kari Ladrow and Dr. Brian Harrington from the Department of Public Health for Moffat and Routt Counties pushed the practice of washing ones hands, staying home when you’re sick, and to call care clinics or the nurse’s help line if you’re sick, rather than showing up at the clinic or ER unannounced.
“The real question with this now is do we have the medical pieces in place,” Dr. Harrington said. “In Craig, with MRH, they’re prepared and figuring out how to handle certain scenarios. Craig’s structure is well-suited to handle this with MRH. It’s a united front from the hospital to the clinics. It’s a united front across the board.
“I think in northwest Colorado we’re more prepared to handle this than other rural areas across the country,” Dr. Harrington added.
While the virus is certainly concerning and could make its way to Moffat County, Hilley said it’s no time to panic.
“This is not a time to freak out,” Hilley told MRH staff during Friday’s conference. “In fact, it’s never a good time to freak out. We have procedures in place to take care of this, should we have cases pop up here.”
According to Hilley, MRH is working closely with Moffat, Routt, Jackson and Rio Blanco Counties’ Public Health Departments. Additionally, Hilley is attending phone conferences three times a week with the Center for Disease Control, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Community Infectious Disease Emergency Response team.
To prevent the spread of coronavirus throughout Moffat County, it’s really up to its residents.
The Centers for Disease Control are encouraging everyone to :
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
MRH is implementing screening procedures at its Emergency Room and other clinics, while EMS dispatch has a set of prepared questions for residents when they call in, allowing dispatch to give first responders a heads up regarding the situation they’re responding to.
At this time, no resident in Moffat County has been tested for the virus.
COVID-19, as it’s officially known as, spreads from surface to surface, or from close contact from someone who is infected and showing symptoms.
First detected in Wuhan, China December 2019, the virus has now been detected in 80 countries. In late January the World Health Organization declared an outbreak.
Most of the cases in Colorado are presumptive cases since their test results still have to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the CDC.
Coronavirus likely leapt from animals to humans in central China, according to the CDC, before spreading to from person to person late in 2019.
The disease attacks the respiratory system, and causes symptoms similar to the flu, including coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. As with most viruses, the most susceptible are the elderly, and people with asthma or other chronic illnesses.
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