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County Health Department Works With Other Agencies To Be Prepared For Worst With Coronavirus

 Things are changing daily regarding the spread of both coronavirus and the flu.

In fact, Sandra Bell, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve County Health Department, said last week the situation is even more fluid than that.

“It changes every single hour, just about,” Bell said.

Bell met with city and county leaders on March 2 to review emergency plans in case coronavirus cases reach Ste. Genevieve County.

On Saturday, the first case in Missouri was reported. Governor Mike Parson announced that a 20-year old St. Louis County woman, who had been studying in Italy had received a “presumptive positive” test result, after going to Mercy Hospital South with fever and breathing issues.

Parson said that the woman flew to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and took an Amtrak train to St. Louis.

The woman is in quarantine at home, along with her family, the governor said.

Prior to that case, there had been 15 people tested for coronavirus in Missouri, with none of them testing positive.

The Ste. Genevieve County Health Department does not have test kits, Bell said.

Should anyone fear they might have contracted coronavirus, she said they must see their physician first. The doctor would have to contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to get authorization for the patient to be tested, which should be done at the Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital emergency room.

“I’m in close contact daily with the Department of Health and Senior Services, and I will provide updates as needed to those who need to know,” she said. “So far there is nothing that is a public warning here except for taking normal precautions. It’s the same things you should do all the time, anyway. Everybody doesn’t always follow it.”

These same precautions cover the flu and the common cold.

They include covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing and washing your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. In fact, hands should be washed and dried frequently.

“I went to the gas station and wore gloves because how many people touch those [pump handles]?” Bell said. “We wash off our door handles here at least twice a day. Just normal precautions to not transmit anything.”

People who feel sick should stay home other than when seeking treatment, Bell said.

“I’m working closely with the emergency room on a plan to work through and deal with any situation that arises,” Bell said. “There are absolutely no cases in the county right now and nobody under investigation.”

See complete story in the March 11 edition of the Herald.

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