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COVID-19 precautions mirror those for flu

by | Mar 10, 2020 | Latest

Collin County health officials have identified a presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
A Frisco man in his 30’s who recently traveled to California is stable, in isolation in his home, and is being monitored by county health care staff. Collin County Health Care Services (CCHCS) will await further testing to confirm the initial results, since the patient’s symptoms have not required hospitalization. 
CCHCS is also monitoring the man’s family, setting up any needed tests, and working to identify any contacts who may have been exposed while he was infectious. Anyone found to have had close contact to the patient will be contacted directly by county health care staff.
The immediate risk of transmission in Collin County remains low, according to health officials.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness for COVID-19 cases. Symptoms of fever, cough and/or shortness of breath may appear 2-14 days after exposure.
Public health care professionals stress frequent hand washing, practicing cough etiquette and staying at home when ill as the world confronts the spread of the new coronavirus designated COVID-19.
Through last week, the virus had affected more than 111,000 people and resulted in about 3,892 deaths worldwide. Individuals with the virus had been identified in 87 countries.
School district nurses are staying in communication with state and county health authorities and will follow their lead in the event any direct action, such as closing school, would need to be taken.
“We are not ready to escalate our response,” Wylie Independent School District Nurse Amy Hillin said.
She pointed out that the district developed a flu/respiratory illness plan in 2009 in case schools should ever face a viral pandemic.
Princeton Independent School District Lead Nurse Dacia Jondron reported that in her 13 years with Princeton, they have never had to close a school because of illnesses such as the flu. She gives credit to the school housekeeping department that is keeping campuses disinfected.
The most effective responses to remain free of the new infection are the same as are observed during flu season, the nurses explained. Hands should be frequently washed with soap; cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm to prevent spreading germs; use hand sanitizer; and stay home if you are experiencing fever, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Jondron reported that she is monitoring the coronavirus through Collin County Health Authority and will follow that agency’s suggestions.
Hillin said that there is no way to predict the course of the coronavirus, whether it continues spreading or if it abates.
She has posted a health notice on the WISD website explaining the district’s response and how to prevent the spread of infection as part of a pre-emptive plan.
COVID-19 was first diagnosed in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. The virus is respiratory much like the flu, but is more severe, Hillin said.
In response to health alarms, citizens are stocking up on items believed effective in warding off the virus. Pharmacies have sold out of surgical masks and some are low on hand sanitizers and latex gloves.
However, according to Garland ISD Director of Health Services Renee Kotsopoulos, wearing a mask is not recommended.
“GISD Health Services holds regular meetings with nurses, including meetings focused on flu and COVID-19. Nurses have been provided with training and equipment to limit the spread of all viruses,” she said. “Nurses are fully prepared to act if a widespread outbreak should occur.”
She also noted that the district receives daily updates from the CDC, also keeping up with state and county health agencies. The district sends information via its website and social media, and Kotsopoulos recommends using these resources when gathering information.
“Stay away from online posts,” she advised. “These sites often provide incorrect information.”
Hillin explained that the flu and coronavirus are both highly contagious, but the coronavirus is a more severe respiratory disease.
She said that if a student reports to a school nurse with flu-like symptoms, the student is outfitted with a mask to limit the spread of airborne germs and is then sent home.
For questions, please call Collin County Health Services during business hours at 972-548-4707. After business hours please call Sheriff’s dispatch at 972-547-5350.

By Joe Reavis • [email protected]

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