Standard cold/flu hygiene is best defense against coronavirus

March 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Editor’s Note: The following is a press release from Boundary County Public Information Officer, Andrew O’Neel, concerning the new coronavirus:

Current news about the SARS-CoV-2 “novel coronavirus” the disease it causes, called COVID-19, can be overwhelming. Current risk to the general public is low, however, and there are a small number of individual cases in the United States. Health experts are concerned about SARS-CoV-2 because little is known about the virus and it has the potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia.

Boundary County officials are working cooperatively with Panhandle Health District, local healthcare facilities, and school district officials to be proactive in monitoring and preparing for COVID-19 (coronavirus). The virus has not yet been found in Idaho, but our neighbors in Washington have already been exposed to it.

What can we do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if it does arrive in Boundary County? At this point, the best way for us to prevent COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes it. The precautions for avoiding COVID-19 are the same as those for avoiding the flu and common cold.

• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue; sneeze or cough into your elbow instead of your hands;

• Wash your hands frequently for a least 20 seconds, especially if you forget and cough or sneeze into them;

• Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you can’t wash your hands;

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and

• Avoid close contact (within six feet) with people who are sick.

COVID-19 symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and include fever, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus, but if you suspect you might have the COVID-19, what should you do?

• Stay home and stop the spread to others;

• Leave home only to seek medical care;

• Contact your healthcare provider by phone.

The best way to receive current local community information concerning the coronavirus is:

• Watch local television channels KREM2, KXLY, and KHQ-6 for local updates and information from state and county officials;

• Listen to local radio stations and monitor local online news websites;

• Monitor the Boundary County Emergency Management/Public Information Officer Facebook page for information posted by local county officials;

• Monitor the school district’s status at their website at www.bcsd101.com; and

• Register on Nixle at www.nixle.com to quickly receive any time-sensitive or critical information from the Sheriff’s Office via text messages or direct emails.

Also, the Panhandle Health District has established a call center where the public can ask questions about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. The center will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the number is 877-415-5225.

Visit www.cdc.gov/covid19 for their latest news and helpful information such as what employers and community event planners should start thinking about ahead of time.