LEPC prepares response for influx of new bugs, including Covid-19
Washington State’s six deaths from novel coronavirus are also the total number for the USA. Four of the deaths were residents of a nursing home in Kirkland. Washington has 18 confirmed cases. The global death toll, as of Monday afternoon, has just passed 3,000, the majority, 2,912 of those deaths were in China.
Alaska is so far untouched by the virus, which has been officially named Covid-19. Nome has scheduled a special meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Commission for March 4.
“It’s just to keep everybody informed and on the same page,” said Tom Vaden, chair of the LEPC. “Public Health now has already started putting out flyers on what to do. We are getting hit with influenza A in the region, we’re getting hit with RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) in the region and we’re also coming up on Fur Rondy and Iditarod which spread all kinds of respiratory viruses around. It’s like everybody gets exposed to a whole bunch of new bugs. This new virus will come in. We always get a bunch of new bugs from Iditarod. They get spread around all over the place. “
Norton Sound Health Corporation is getting information from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and from the Alaska Division of Public Health. NHSC requests that people who have traveled within the last 14 days to China, South Korea, Italy or Japan, or people with known exposure to patients confirmed with or highly suspected of the coronavirus infection within the last 14 days, and who develop fever, cough, or shortness of breath, to please call the NSHC Nurse Call Line at 907-443-6411. Such persons will receive an appropriate screening by phone and instructions on whether testing is necessary and how to receive the testing at NSHC.
The State of Alaska released a fact sheet on Friday with instructions on how to prepare for the virus. Here are some of the recommendations:
• Keep at least six feet from ill people who are coughing or sneezing
• Wash hands frequently and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol
• Avoid touching face, mouth, nose and eyes
• Routinely clean frequently touched objects
• If you feel ill, stay home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without the use of medicines
• If you think you have the coronavirus, call your doctor before coming in
• Have an emergency preparedness kit
• Plan for the possibility of school dismissals and get to know your neighbors
• Identify a room in your home to separate ill people from those who are healthy
• If you do fall ill and live alone, keep in touch with friends and family by phone
How severe is Covid-19?
According to the CDC’s update on Monday, March 2, the complete clinical picture of the virus is not yet understood. Symptoms are reported from mild to severe, including in those cases, which have ended with the death of the afflicted. “This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available,” says the CDC dispatch. “The fact that this disease has caused illness, including illness resulting in death, and sustained person-to-person spread is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria of a pandemic. As community spread is detected in more and more countries, the world moves closer toward meeting the third criteria, worldwide spread of the new virus.” The CDC goes on to say that the virus is currently not spreading rapidly in the USA.
Nome’s March 4 meeting will bring together the entities charged with dealing with the virus if and when it comes to Nome. “So what we’re trying to do is let the health care professionals tell us,” said Tom Vaden. “DHSS is running the emergency operations center for this in Alaska. What’s their plan? What is Norton Sound’s plan and how are they going to handle it in Nome and in the communities? And Nome Emergency Services is going to say ‘this is what we’re doing.’ And then Kawerak is going to say what they are doing. This is a changing situation. What’s the jail going to do? This is all the major players right here. It’s like a who’s who in the zoo with everybody telling everybody else what your plans are.”