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Updated 9:15 a.m. on 3.12.20 to add a link to CDC recommendations for those people at a higher risk for getting very sick.
The health and safety of our community is our highest priority. While there are no confirmed cases of the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Buncombe County, planning and preparedness is occurring at the national and local levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that more cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States and urges Americans to prepare for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in their community. Don't panic - but do prepare.
Know the Risks & Symptoms:
The risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is currently low, however Buncombe County leadership recommends that the public take preemptive steps to be prepared for COVID-19 if and when it enters our community. You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms. COVID-19 is believed to spread through respiratory droplets that pass when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A mild case may look like the common cold. Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, AND history of close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or recent travel history related to affected areas.
The greatest risk is for people who have recently traveled to China or been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that people who have returned from China more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms are not infected with the virus and contact with them will not give you the virus.
Because the virus is not able to survive well on surfaces, there likely is very low risk of spread of coronaviruses from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at environmental temperatures.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, it’s still a good idea to get one.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Wash your 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 at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
If you are sick, facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms to help prevent the spread of the illness to others.
N95 face masks, which are different from surgical masks and are respiratory protective devices with a very close facial fit and the ability to filter airborne particles, are not advised for the general public. These masks must be properly fitted to work, and they make breathing difficult when worn for an extended amount of time. Children should not use N95 masks.
Buncombe County leaders urge preparedness for COVID-19:
- Shop for the essentials: Store a two-week supply of water and nonperishable food and be sure to remember pet food and toilet paper. Make sure to have on hand your go-to sickbed foods, like chicken or vegetable broth and crackers in case of illness, as well as hydrating drinks such as Gatorade and Pedialyte for kids.
- Think about your plans for child care if schools need to close.
- If COVID-19 does start circulating in your community or there's someone sick at home, plan on cleaning surfaces that get touched frequently, such as kitchen counters and bathroom faucets, several times a day. Keep high-touch surfaces in your house clean with household cleaning spray or wipes.
- Avoid crowds to minimize your risk of catching the disease. Stay home except for medical care. Before seeking care, call your healthcare provider and tell them you have, or are being evaluated for COVID-19.
Buncombe County resources that are available to you.
BCHHS Public Health Preparedness is here as a resource. If you have additional questions about preparedness planning for your business or industry, please email us at email@example.com.
Buncombe County is committed to providing up-to-date information on both the flu and Coronavirus. Please visit buncombecounty.org/bcready for preparedness information, numbers to know during an emergency situation, and updated response information.