As the Coronavirus spreads around the world and across the United States, local health officials urge residents to be informed and take precautions against contracting this respiratory illness that now has been detected in several states.
Melissa Fraley, Nursing Director for the Moore County Health Department, asked residents to take reports of the virus seriously and be prepared in a presentation to the Moore County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting on Tuesday, March 3.
According to Fraley, there are no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in North Carolina nor are there any cases in Moore County that her department is following, at this time. However, a few short hours after Fraley’s presentation, a North Carolina person in Wake County has tested positive for Coronavirus, according to Gov. Roy Cooper.
Robert Wittmann, Moore County Health Director, pointed out that virus test kits are now being distributed to all state health departments, labs, hospitals and private practitioners. “The numbers of tests are going to be more prevalent. As the tests are more prevalent, we expect to have more positives, and so there will be more cases identified” he said. “The numbers are going to go up. That is to be expected.”
Symptoms of the virus, now officially named COVID-19, are similar to the common flu; fever, cough, sneezing and shortness of breath. People at risk are those that have recently traveled to an affected part of the world or have been in close contact with someone known to have the virus. It is spread person-to-person through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Another way the virus is transmitted is from direct contact with infected surfaces.
“We have little to no immediate risk of exposure to the virus,” Fraley said. “It is not currently wide-spreading in the U.S. That may change. As you watch the news, you can see that cases are popping up daily. They seem to be getting closer to us.”
As a precaution, Fraley asks that people wash their hands often, be mindful of hygiene, and minimize touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Also, cover your nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, use your elbow, use common household cleaners and disinfectants, and avoid contact with people that are ill.
The virus is also a concern to Moore County Schools. In a statement on their website, the school system says it is “closely monitoring information about the Coronavirus as it develops”. Seth Powers, Director for Student Support Services, said that Moore County has a Pandemic Influenza Plan and will be following it in the event of a coronavirus spread to our area.
According to School Health Programs Manager, Phyllis Magnuson, “We encourage parents to keep their child at home if he or she has a fever of 100 degrees or higher and to keep them at home until they are fever free for 24 hours without medication.”
Feature photo: Moore County Health Department Nursing Director Melissa Farley briefing the Moore County Board of Commissioners about the Coronavirus Tuesday ~John Patota/Sandhills Sentinel.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.