Don't panic. Everyone's telling us to wash our hands yet stores all over Fairfield are out of sanitizer. At press time, the U.S. death count from coronavirus or COVID-19 is 19, and there are 126 reported cases in 13 states — including 13 in New York State, 10 of these in Westchester, so far, as reported here in Daily Voice. Still, none are reported in Connecticut, where Fairfield County officials are getting ready.
Stamford Mayor David Martin said Wednesday, March 4, that there is no coronavirus in Stamford, where public safety and other city officials, Stamford Hospital, school and religious representatives have met in the Emergency Operations Center to discuss and prepare for an outbreak. A "coordinated response" effort to track coronavirus and safeguard the community and first responders has been ongoing for several weeks, said Martin.
“Stamford’s first response agencies and Stamford Hospital are professionals who are prepared and trained to respond to events and emergencies. We are working with each department to update training as necessary and provide appropriate protective equipment for response," said Director of Public Safety, Health and Welfare Ted Jankowski.
"It is important for the public to know that this infection looks very similar to influenza, so if you have not taken your flu shot, you can still get one. The primary way to prevent infecting yourself is by washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer and staying away from people who are sick. The Department of Health will continue to work with local, state and federal partners to review preparedness measures and response protocols as well as to provide the public with up-to-date information," said Dr. Jennifer Calder, the Director of Health.
Here's what we know:
- COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath and may appear from 2 to 14 days after exposure.
- If you get sick, you should isolate. If you or your child feels sick with respiratory disease symptoms, stay home and call· your or your child’s medical provider and seek advice.
- Use respiratory etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
- Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol.
- Environment: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
Officials remind all travelers who have been to affected countries to contact their local and state health departments. If you develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of arriving in the United States from an affected country, call your local health department.
Along with good hygiene, the CDC recommends maintaining a "social distance" of at least three feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because contaminated hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
"While there are still unanswered questions, state leaders are continuing to study this issue to make sure Connecticut residents are protected. Now is not the time to panic – now is the time to prepare. Knowledge is the best way for us to stay safe," Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk, Darien) said in a statement found here.
Duff's statement featured information from health professionals, including: face masks aren't recommended, infected individual should try to avoid their pets since it isn't yet known if the virus will affect them, if you feel your symptoms worsening seek prompt medical attention and be sure to let your doctor know if you suspect you have the illness so they can take precautions to limit further spread.
Duff also stressed that when events like these occur, rumors and misinformation are common: You are not at risk of contracting COVID-19 from people of Asian descent and people who have returned from China more than two weeks ago and do not have symptoms do not carry the virus.
"My office will remain in constant contact with the appropriate agencies and health care professionals and provide any support and resources required," said Duff.
Fairfield County schools are also preparing for coronavirus to take hold.
"We work closely with our Town of Greenwich Health Department, State of Connecticut Health Department, taking guidance and direction from those agencies, and the CDC, who keep school districts informed," said Sasha Houlihan, the district's communication director.
"The CDC has been proactive in providing information on the coronavirus and flu season, as well as our local and state agencies. We do also have a consultant that works with the district, Dr. Katy Noble, who, in addition to our Health Services Team and the Town of Greenwich Department of Health, will be our partner on health-related issues. We are also monitoring field trips planned for our GPS students should the CDC issue any domestic or international travel warnings where our students would be traveling."
The facilities staff is taking "additional steps" with ongoing cleaning of high- touch surfaces such as doorknobs and sinks.
"We continue to remind students to wash their hands, cover their cough and we encourage families to keep children home when children are not feeling well," Houlihan said.