Monday, March 9, 2020
Although there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Atlantic County at this time, County Executive Dennis Levinson is asking residents to remain vigilant and to prepare much the same way as they would for a severe weather emergency.
“In anticipation of a severe weather event, we would ask residents to prepare by gathering items for a disaster supply kit that would include food, water, medications, baby and pet supplies, etc. We would also recommend they have a plan for their families should they need to shelter-in-place,” said Levinson. “In the case of COVID-19 we are recommending many of the same preparedness actions should they become ill and need to stay home to self-monitor.”
Levinson noted that state health officials have reported the risk to the general population remains low with no current evidence of community spread in New Jersey. Most cases are mild with only 16% considered severe. Those at greatest risk for complications from infection appear to be older adults with existing heart or lung diseases, diabetes or compromised immune systems.
“Residents are understandably concerned, but they need not be alarmed,” he said. “We are in regular communication with state and federal health officials, our municipalities, hospitals and healthcare providers, first responders and schools to both provide and receive information and updates.”
Levinson stressed that safe hygiene practices are the best defense we have in absence of a vaccine for this new strain of coronavirus.
“It sounds simple, but it bears repeating,” he said. “Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If that is not available, use hand sanitizer that contains more than 60% alcohol. Stay home if you are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve rather than a tissue. Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces to prevent the spread of germs.”
Health officials advise that if you are ill and have symptoms such as a cough and fever to stay home.
According to Levinson, the county’s Meadowview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Northfield is sending letters to family members of its residents to advise them of just that – to stay home and refrain from visiting the facility if they are sick.
The county jail has not restricted visitors at this time but has installed additional hand sanitizing stations. All county buildings are cleaned daily and stronger disinfectants are being used to help remove germs from surfaces at the jail and nursing home.
“We are following all guidelines and protocols provided by the New Jersey Department of Health,” Levinson said. “Residents should pay close attention and monitor legitimate government and media outlets to stay apprised of the situation as it continues to evolve. We also recommend they register with our Emergency Notification System, if they have not already done so, at: https://www.readyatlantic.org/stay/com_notification.asp.”
Anyone who has questions or concerns about COVID-19 may call the state hotline at 1-800-222-1222, which is available 24/7 with multi-language capacity. People in New Jersey with a non-New Jersey cell phone may call 1-800-962-1253. Operators are not able to diagnose or provide specific medical recommendations. Those seeking medical advice should contact a healthcare provider.