Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Chris Person
of the Times 

Lincoln County Prepares for Covid-19

 

March 19, 2020



The Davenport School District released a statement earlier this week addressing issues that could arise in connection with coronavirus.

“Although it is unlikely that we close, we are at the very least going to do our due diligence in the event circumstances change,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the district is conducting a technology survey and implementing a trial program for using Chromebooks in middle and high school “to help limit the spreading of germs...”

The survey was sent home with students Tuesday.

“If needed in the future, we may pilot a K-5 model of sending home one Chromebook per family,” the statement said.

As the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak expands, it requires a community response and Lincoln County health providers are taking preventative action. According to local and national health experts, the most important things the community can do is wash your hands often and stay home if you are sick.

“While you may be experiencing mild symptoms, you have the potential to expose someone else that could lead to severe illness or death,” said Dr. Monteagudo, Lincoln County Health Officer. “Since most people experience mild illness, seek medical attention only when necessary.” Symptoms include fever, cough or shortness of breath. If you feel you need medical attention, it is important to call your healthcare provider prior to going to the healthcare facility to develop a course of treatment over the phone. This reduces unnecessary community exposures as well as protects our healthcare systems.

Currently, the confirmed case count is increasing on the west side of Washington with a few cases in Eastern Washington. “Although there are no confirmed cases in Lincoln County yet, we expect to have cases and we are working as a community to prepare” said Ed Dzedzy, Public Health Administrator.

“There is no vaccine or treatment at this point, so we are evaluating and implementing non-pharmaceutical interventions designed to slow the spread of the virus to protect our vulnerable community members.” According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of cases experience mild symptoms. Individuals over 60 years of age or with underlying health conditions and pregnant mothers are the most vulnerable and at risk of severe illness.

With this awareness, Lincoln County is taking action. Lincoln Hospital and Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center and their associated clinics are reviewing response plans and protocols to provide the best care possible to Covid-19 patients while protecting other patients and staff. “Our goal is to identify Covid-19 patients prior to their entry into our facilities so that we can provide appropriate care for them while maintaining the quality of care to our other patients and safety of our staff,” said Mo Sheldon, OMHC Administrator. This includes increased patient screening protocols, implemented isolation and quarantine protocols and updated laboratory testing procedures in compliance with CDC guidelines.

“It’s so important to stay home if you are sick or call before you arrive at any healthcare facility if you have COVID-19 symptoms,” said Jennifer Larmer, Chief Clinical Officer at Lincoln Hospital. “This alone could prevent a community outbreak in Lincoln County.”

Lincoln County Schools are also taking action. They have reviewed their infectious disease protocols and consulted with the Lincoln County Health Department regarding CDC guidance for schools. Schools have evaluated and increased their cleaning and sanitizing practices. Sick children are being asked to stay home. Children experiencing symptoms may be isolated at school until parents or family members can pick them up. There are no plans to close schools or events at this time. “The available data about COVID-19 cases has shown that children and youth have not been high risk groups for serious illness from this virus” according to Dr. Monteagudo, Lincoln County Health Officer. “COVID-19 infection in children tends to be more like a common cold or a mild fever”. Schools are doing the important work of educating our children and disruptions to that need to be minimized unless there are known coronavirus exposure risks. School closures can be costly for families and communities and will be considered carefully based on conditions at the time. Now is the time to prepare for possible school and event closures in case that action is required.

Other individual and community strategies include:

• Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds and keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes.

• Cough into your sleeve or tissue and dispose of the tissue into a waste basket.

• Make an emergency plan of action with household members. Have alternate arraignments for childcare in case schools or daycares close. Maintain your prescriptions so you have a supply on hand. Have emergency supplies on hand in case of community disruptions.

• Make plans to check in with family and neighbors who live alone.

• When the virus is identified locally, avoid large gatherings and events.

• Increase your personal space to 6 feet in social settings.

• Stay informed with credible information at http://www.cdc.gov or http://www.doh.wa.gov

• Consider canceling community gatherings and events depended on the outbreak situation.

 

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