Macon County’s Local Disaster Preparedness Team met this morning to talk about where the county stands as the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, continues to be a threat to the country. Local hospital officials, law enforcement, public school and health department officials came together to coordinate plans to keep the community safe.
Their main message: Right now, there are no coronavirus cases in North Carolina.
Macon County Emergency Services DirectorWarren Cabe explains that because of the tourism industry, the county has seen potential viruses before, such as H1N1 and bird flu. This is no different.
“This is nothing new for us. It’s a new problem but the procedures are not necessarily that new. So we are pretty confident that the folks that are involved in this can address any issues that come up and we will learn as we go and adjust as necessary to make sure the public stays safe,” says Cabe.
Cabe reminds the community that flu shots are still available at the health department and that the flu is currently more deadly than the coronavirus in the U.S.
Kathy McGaha, spokesperson for the Macon County health department says that the best advice for people is diligently wash their hands and keep their homes clean.
“If you are sick stay home. Don’t expose people to whatever illness you might be experiencing.”
State authorities do warn that if you have recently been to China, or one of the other countries that has been impacted by the virus, then you should talk with your doctor or local health department. Italy is one of the newest countries added to this list.
HCA Healthcare officials were also present at the meeting. HCA’s press office shared this statement:
Like all hospitals, all Mission Health hospitals are always preparing for emergencies, including infectious diseases like COVID-19. To date, representatives of all Mission Health hospitals, have been actively involved in planning for COVID-19 in the communities we serve. Through the vast resources available to us through our partnership with HCA Healthcare, we have participated in regular preparedness exercises and are currently working to reinforce appropriate infection prevention protocols, and ensure we have the needed supplies and equipment, as well as staffing contingency plans as part of our emergency planning and preparedness.
We also remain in close contact with the local health departments and the CDC as this situation continues to develop.
When considering personal preparedness, it is important to keep a few points in mind. First, infectious disease experts are emphasizing that COVID-19 causes an illness that is similar to the flu. While a vaccine for COVID-19 is not expected to be available for at least 12-18 months, everyday habits that protect us from common respiratory illness are even more important now. We all can protect our own health as well as the health of our family members and community by remembering:
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
Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often, using either soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel for at least 20 seconds
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces