Local officials meet on COVID-19 threat

Lewis County Judge Executive Todd Ruckel and local officials met Wednesday to discuss the potential local threat by the most recently discovered coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

“We have decided to take some very simple, precautionary steps to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ruckel said after the meeting.

“These measures are common-sense, inexpensive measures that I urge everyone in our community to follow,” he added.

There are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Lewis County but there are eight cases in Kentucky.

At a 9:00 a.m. news conference Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear told the media that the current patients are stable and some are nearing recovery.

Ruckel said he has distributed disinfecting supplies to all county offices and added more precautionary measures are being taken at the Justice Center for sessions of court.

“We are following the recommendations to disinfect surfaces frequently, wash our hands frequently and engage in a degree of social distancing,” Ruckel said.

Ruckel said he is recommending for people to refrain from personal contact, such as shaking hands and hugging, and keeping a minimum distance of three feet from others, when possible.

Ruckel said that while younger, healthy people may only be mildly affected by the virus, the primary concern is keeping it from spreading to those with underlying medical conditions or weakened immune systems.

“The mortality rate increases with age and with those who have lung, kidney, or heart conditions,” Ruckel stated.

Ruckel said all visiting hours have been suspended at the Lewis County Detention Center and other steps have been taken there to lessen the chances of the virus to spread to or from that population.

“We have inmates in that facility from across the state,” Ruckel said.

He said steps have also been taken with the local school district including more time allocated for hand washing before meals; more hand sanitizing stations; a switch to plastic trays and utensils; and more thorough, and frequent disinfecting of surfaces.

Ruckel said in addition to his meeting with local officials, he participated Wednesday afternoon in a conference call originating from the White House to update local leaders across the US on COVID-19.

“We were assured the risk to the average American remains low and that most cases that have been reported in the United States are mild,” he said.

“The officials hosting the briefing urged the participants to take actions locally to be better prepared,” he said. “That is exactly what we are doing.”

Ruckel said through his observations he has determined that although COVID-19 symptoms are much the same as flu symptoms there are three primary differences.

“This coronavirus strain can be more deadly and more contagious than the flu, and there is presently no vaccine available,” he said.

“This is why it is important that we protect our older and more susceptible citizens by not spreading this virus in our community,” Ruckel added.

“While the risk may be low for a healthy person to travel to areas where there have been confirmed cases, that healthy person could carry the virus back to our community and unintentionally spread it to others with dire consequences,” he said.

Ruckel said Vanceburg Rehabilitation and Care has suspended visiting hours at that facility but there are many at-risk individuals in Lewis County that are his primary concern.

“We all should look out for each other,” he said.

Ruckel said he urges everyone to keep up with news on the issue and take a common sense approach in dealing with the threat.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings.

What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?

Protection measures for everyone

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

• Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
• Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

• Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
• Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
• Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

• Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
• Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

• Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
• Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

• Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
• Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading:

• Follow the guidance outlined above (Protection measures for everyone)

• Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
• Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.

• If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.
• Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

Here is a link with the latest: https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx


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