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Public health officials in West Virginia have been preparing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) for weeks. Hospitals are following CDC recommendations and according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, “no patients have been tested or are otherwise under investigation for the illness in the state.”
Kanawha County health officials already met Monday to plan for a potential spate of infections. And Tuesday, Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold held a symposium at City Council chambers for first responders and the general public and has assembled a response team. While health officials agree that it’s too early to know how this new virus will progress, they also stress that the risk to WV citizens is currently quite low.
West Virginia’s State Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch and Governor Jim Justice were part of a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday. Gov. Justice has organized a roundtable discussion on Wednesday. Included in this event will be: leaders of the WVU and Marshall schools of medicine, State Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, as well as the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Crouch said that WV already has one test kit on hand which can be utilized to test several hundred individuals, if necessary.
Current preventative guidelines are the same as those for any flu outbreak: wash hands thoroughly and frequently, cover your coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your eyes/nose/mouth frequently, regularly disinfect surfaces, keep a distance from others, and, most importantly – if you are sick, stay home.
Also, please do not overreact. It’s not a bad idea to stock up on just a couple weeks’ worth of groceries and household goods, but there is no need to purchase medical supplies such as face masks, respirators, goggles, and gowns. The World Health Organization warns that hoarding and misuse puts healthcare workers – and by extension, all of us – at greater risk.
You can stay informed by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Coronavirus Disease 2019 hub or subscribe to the CDC’s email and text subscription service for important updates.
Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law