COVID-19 Update

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KDHE continues to closely monitor the outbreak of a respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The outbreak first started in Wuhan, China, but cases have been identified around the world including the United States.  The first case in the United States was announced January 21, 2020.

Kansas announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in a Johnson County woman under the age of 50.  It was announced Saturday, March 8 at a press conference.  As of today, the patient is at KU Med being monitored and doing well.

While there is absolutely no cause for panic, there are some simple planning measures that everyone should take.  Most of these measures should be considered at the start of any flu season, by the way, so it’s not going overboard to consider them now.

1) Identify everyone who needs to be part of your plan and what his/her needs are. This should include things like health or medical conditions, medication needs, medical equipment needs, dietary needs, and other things you’d consider during any other type of emergency. Current information about COVID-19 suggests that older adults and those with underlying chronic medical conditions may be at risk for more serious complications.

2) Create an emergency contact list. Make sure you have a current list of emergency contacts that includes family, friends, neighbors, healthcare providers, employers, schools and your local public health department.  If you have this information stored on your phone, be sure it’s not passcode locked, or be sure someone has access to the passcode.

3) Learn about the emergency plans at your family’s jobs and schools and plan for what you’ll do if a family member gets sick. What plans do you have in place if schools are closed because of widespread illness? Who will take care of your children if daycares must close? What sick-leave and telework policies does your employer have? Don’t forget to include social services that are part of your daily life, including things like student meal programs and mental health services.

4) Encourage your whole family to practice preventive hygiene. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face. Cover your mouth with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Stay home when you or a family member are sick. Clean frequently touched surfaces every day. Avoid or minimize close contact with sick people.

5) Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate those who are sick from the rest of the household. If possible, this should include a bathroom for the sick individuals to use. Clean and disinfect these rooms as needed and minimize contact between sick and healthy people.

6) Pets. Not enough is known about the COVID-19 virus to be certain whether it can be passed by pets.  For this reason, pets should be kept away from a sick person.  This also means that someone other than an infected person should oversee care for your pets.

7) Don’t eat bats.  It’s theorized that this coronavirus made the jump from animals to humans through the practice of eating bats.  Don’t do that.  It’s just nasty.