The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Saturday confirmed the first presumptive-positive case of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 strain.
The case involves a woman under the age of 50 in Johnson County who had recently traveled to the east coast. The results will be verified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lab but will be treated as positive unless determined otherwise. While Riley County and Kansas are still low risk for the coronavirus, the Riley County Health Department is making sure the public is informed.
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Andrew Adams says the health department has a page on their website with information on the virus. But when it comes to real world prevention, Adams says it comes down to the basics.
- Wash your hands
- Stay home when sick
- Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding close contact with people are sick
- If you do come in contact, keep surfaces cleaned
The webpage is constantly being updated by the department with media releases, fact sheets, and infographics. The webpage can be found on the county’s website at rileycountyks.gov at the very top of the homepage.
Health Department Director Julie Gibbs says the public needs to make sure they are getting their information from trusted sources. These sources include the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the CDC, and the World Health Organization.
Adams says the public does not wear face masks when they are not sick. The purpose of the mask is to prevent exposure to others. This is also helpful since the nation is still in the peak flu season.
The department is currently in the process of working with areas partners to make sure they are prepared. They are communicating with hospitals, emergency services, emergency management, and other similar entities.
“We’re really working on streamlining our processes, you know the virus is new but our procedures are not so we are updating them,” says Adams, “We’re helping getting out partners prepared, getting the citizens prepared, and preparing ourselves.”
Director Julie Gibbs says they are also making sure their partners are relaying the same consistent message so there is no confusion in the community.
“We all have that same message and that is we are still low risk,” she said.
In the event a case of the virus here in the county, the department has several quarantine protocols in place. They would be working with healthcare providers with the state and patient. Adams says they also want to make sure they keep the patient as healthy and as comfortable as possible. The goal is to actually keep the patient in their home rather than quarantined at the hospital.