Preparations everyone should be taking
Sherry Petrucci, RN, Public Health Nurse
Agawam Health Department
In December 2019, Chinese scientists began investigating what was causing a recent outbreak of pneumonia cases in the City of Wuhan China, identifying a previously unknown coronavirus. Originally called 2019nCoV disease, until on February 11, 2020 when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced its new name COVID-19 to better identify it.
Coronaviruses are respiratory viruses and are generally spread through respiratory secretions (droplets from coughs and sneezes) of an infected person to another person. Symptoms of novel coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and, in severe cases, pneumonia (fluid in the lungs). Information about how this novel coronavirus spreads is still limited.
Although the risk of the coronavirus to Massachusetts residents remains low with 1 confirmed case, people are advised to take many of the same steps they do to help prevent colds and the flu, including:
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, before and after eating, toileting, coughing or sneezing. In addition to touching contaminated surfaces.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and dispose of in a trash receptacle.
- Stay home when feeling sick.
- Refrain from touching or shaking hands.
- Maintain at least a 6 foot distance between anyone appearing to be sick.
Preparation is key. Don’t wait till you are advised to self-isolate or quarantine. Get your households prepared now.
- Have at least a 14 day supply of food and medication on hand.
- Make sure you have a thermometer to take your temperature twice daily, morning and night.
- Keep a supply of Kleenex, toilet paper and fever reducing medication available.
- Purchase disinfectant cleaners or wipes, to clean contaminated surfaces. Doorknobs, phones, computer keyboards, countertops, bathrooms sinks and faucets, bedside tables.
- Don’t share eating or drinking utensils and cups.
- Practice social distancing by avoiding crowded spaces when necessary.
- Have a supply of cash on hand.
Currently, there is no vaccine or antiviral medication available. Should an outbreak occur, public transportation, churches, schools, and malls may be required to shut down. Employers may be asked to have workers work from home to social distance to help combat the spread of disease.
CDC and Massachusetts Department of Public Health are in continual communication with local boards of health with the latest information. To date the United States has 60 confirmed cases, with no deaths.
Do your part. Prepare for the worse hope for the best.