Lincoln County Health Department addresses coronavirus concerns
COURTESY OF THE LINCOLN COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT
LINCOLN COUNTY – As the current respiratory outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) evolves, Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) wants to make sure the community is informed and prepared. Although Governor Tony Evers declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on March 12, overall risk for Wisconsinites remains low. As of March 13, there are no confirmed cases in Lincoln County.
The majority of people infected with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms; however, it has the potential to cause severe illness and death in some.
“Older adults, individuals with chronic diseases, and those with a weakened immune system are more likely to have severe illness caused by COVID-19,” stated Shelley Hersil, Health Officer/Director for the Lincoln County Health Department. “People at higher risk should take precautions when going out in public, such as making an effort to stay away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash hands often. Non-essential air travel and cruise travel should also be avoided at this time.”
If a person that has been exposed to COVID-19, through travel or personal contact, starts to develop fever, cough and has trouble breathing, they should call their healthcare provider immediately. Avoid going directly to the clinic or hospital if possible. Call your provider and inform them of your exposure to COVID-19; they will assist you getting the medical attention you need.
There have been many questions about travel in the recent weeks, especially with spring break approaching.
As of March 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommend the following for international travel:
- All travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to China, Iran, South Korea and most of Europe (Level 3 Travel Notice).
- Older adults and those with chronic conditions should avoid travel to Japan (Level 2).
- Travelers should practice normal precautions (avoiding contact with sick people, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, etc.) when traveling to Hong Kong (Level 1 Travel Notice).
- All travelers, particularly those with underlying health conditions, should avoid all cruise ship travel worldwide. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease, such as non-essential travel and long plane trips.
- This situation is rapidly changing. The CDC updates this information daily; for international travel advisories, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
There are areas in the United States where there is “sustained community transmission” of COVID-19; however, the CDC has not issued recommendations related to domestic travel. Currently, DHS recommends against all nonessential travel to any U.S. state where the CDC deems there is “sustained community transmission” of COVID-19. As of March 11, the CDC has determined sustained community transmission in California, New York, and Washington. It’s important to note this situation is rapidly changing; travelers should refer to the CDC for a current list of states with community transmission at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html.
Currently, a vaccine or drug is not available for COVID-19.
“Community-based interventions such as social distancing, canceling large group gatherings, staying away from others when sick and creating employee plans to work remotely can help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Hersil. “In addition, individuals can prevent the spread of illness by practicing everyday prevention measures, like frequent hand washing, staying home when sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.”
LCHD has a long-standing role with disease prevention, investigation and surveillance. Our department is taking steps to prepare and respond to a potential COVID-19 outbreak locally by:
- Identifying and contacting anyone who has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19. These people are asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms. People with symptoms are tested for COVID-19.
- Providing guidance to clinicians regarding testing.
- Meeting with community partners to review response plans.
- Keeping community partners informed on the current status of COVID-19 and recommendations.
This situation is constantly evolving. Community members are encouraged to visit LCHD’s website, www.lincolncountyhealthdepartment.com, or the CDC’s website, www.cdc.gov, for the latest information. You can also follow the Health Department on Facebook.
Lincoln County Health Department is always working for a safer and healthier Lincoln County.