Since January 2020, the Washington County Health Department has participated in several conference calls with the U.S. Center for Disease Control and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. These calls provide situational updates and instructions for local public health agencies to respond and prepare for Coronavirus Disease 2019. Since its onset, the World Health Organization has officially named the disease as Covid-19, but many still refer to it as Coronavirus.    

In January this year, the Washington County Health Department alerted local healthcare providers, first responders, schools and other stakeholders about the emerging disease. Historically, the Washington County Health Department collaborates with the Washington County Memorial Hospital, Washington County Ambulance District, Great Mines Health Center, and other stakeholders to plan and prepare at the local level. This collaborative effort is in place for Coronavirus.     

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is providing the following link for the most up to date information https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/novel-coronavirus/  This includes practical things one can do to protect themselves such as good personal hygiene, hand washing, cover your cough/sneeze, and cleaning & disinfecting surfaces.  

Those that are immune compromised may want to avoid crowded events and travel to affected areas. Should one have fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath call your doctor upon the onset of symptoms. In addition, it is not too late to get your flu shot. The Washington County Health Department has flu vaccine available.

At present, Washington County has no cases of Covid-19.  However, at the direction of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, if someone tests positive for Covid-19 public health authorities will determine quarantine protocol. That individual’s household or “close” contacts will also be contacted for further direction. The response to this emerging illness is constantly evolving so these protocols are subject to change.        

Potentially, whether at home or at work, the illness and/or the absenteeism can affect our daily lives. The state health department provides preparedness guides for households, businesses, faith-based organizations, and others at https://health.mo.gov/emergencies/readyin3/. In particular, the guides developed for pandemic influenza are a good resource to develop a plan and prepare for Coronavirus.