As of Friday, March 13, there have been no reported cases of the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) in West Virginia.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be prepared if it drops in.
The Hampshire County Health Department is working with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health to recommend several precautionary actions for folks to attempt to get in front of the potential spread of COVID-19.
While it might seem tempting to head into a doctor’s office to get yourself checked out, the county Health Department is advising against unnecessary visits to the doctor “just in case.”
“Not everyone is being screened, and not just anyone can be screened,” said Stephanie Shoemaker, director of the Hampshire County Health Department. “[People] have to meet screening requirements—have possible exposure and be showing symptoms— before you can be screened for it. This helps since we have limited supplies for testing.”
Shoemaker also noted that if you think that you are sick, call your doctor first before making the trip, noting that folks shouldn’t just “show up anywhere.” Calling first and following the instructions of your doctor is paramount.
An additional recommendation from the department is that people who are 60 years or older or people with compromised immune systems should avoid non-essential public places or any travel that isn’t absolutely necessary.
“Employers need to encourage staff to telework,” Shoemaker added. As far as large gatherings of any kind, be it a work gathering (in-person meetings, conferences, etc.) or social events (sporting events, large religious gatherings, festivals, concerts, etc.), the health department is also recommending that organizations consider canceling.
Just because as of right now, there are no reported West Virginia COVID-19 cases, that doesn’t mean that the Mountain State is immune. Shoemaker explained that as new information and updates are available, the health department will alert the necessary parties so that plans can be changed accordingly to present the best course of preventative action.
To keep yourself and your loved ones healthy, make sure you know what some of the COVID-19 symptoms are and how to address them.
What to look for:
Shortness of breath
If you think you have it:
Call your doctor; don’t just show up at the doctor’s office looking to be tested. Testing materials are limited, and if you call your doctor first, they will be able to instruct you on the next steps.
If you’re feeling under the weather at all, stay home. Avoid all unnecessary contact with others.
How to protect yourself:
DO keep your hands and all commonly used surfaces clean. Wash your hands whenever you can, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and try to keep surfaces such as your keyboards, car steering wheels, phone screens, etc. as clean as possible.
DO NOT touch your face if you can help it at all. Your hands touch different surfaces all day long; and if there are viruses on your hands, touching your eyes, nose or mouth can allow the viruses to enter your system and make you sick.
DO cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands. COVID-19 can be passed through respiratory droplets, so keeping your mouth covered when you cough or sneeze is extremely important. If you cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw that tissue out immediately.
DO maintain social distance, usually 3 feet, from folks who might be coughing or sneezing.
DO NOT wear a mask unless either you are sick or you are taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19. If you need to wear a mask, make sure you have done research on how to properly put it on, take it off and dispose of it.
DO keep yourself informed. Organizations such as the WHO and the CDC are working around the clock to provide updated information to the public regarding COVID-19. The Hampshire Review wants everyone to keep themselves informed and will provide the most relevant local updates as often as possible.