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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Click here to learn about Ford County's current COVID-19 cases

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus meaning this is a new strain that has been identified in humans. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals. The virus was first identified during an investigation in an outbreak in Wuhan, China back in December 2019.

How does the virus spread?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). The virus may also be spread by a surface that has the virus and then touching one’s mouth, nose, or possibly one’s eyes.

Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

People who need to take extra precautions.

For the majority of people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. While the risk of exposure to Ford County residents continues to remain low, there are certain individuals and populations who are at higher risk of severe illness.

This includes:

  • Vulnerable populations such as older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes.
  • Travelers returning from affected locations where community spread is occurring.
  • Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19.
  • Close contacts of persons with COVID-19.
  • People in places where ongoing community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been reported.

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

Diagnosis occurs through laboratory testing of respiratory specimens and serum (blood). Physicians, not FCPHD, will collect samples for testing. Contact your healthcare provider should you suspect you have been exposed to COVID-19.

How can people reduce the risk of getting sick and prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Individuals and communities should familiarize themselves with recommendations to protect themselves and their communities from getting and spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. The best way for all Ford County residents to reduce their risk of getting sick, as with seasonal colds or the flu, still applies to prevent COVID-19:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick, unless seeking medical care.
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Try alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump or wave.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops and phones.
  • If you have recently returned from a country, state or region with ongoing spread of COVID-19, monitor your health and follow the instructions of public health officials

FCPHD travel recommendations

Currently, FCPHD recommends avoiding unnecessary travel.  Depending on your travel history, you may be asked to stay home for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread or ongoing community spread. CDC and FCPHD recommend all persons postpone any travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. Visit the CDC website for more information on current travel recommendations.

    Should you wear a mask?

    According to CDC, "We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."

    It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. Click the links below for more information.

    How do I make my own mask?

      Do you need to be tested for COVID-19?

      Question 1: Are you having symptoms like fever, cough, or difficulty breathing?

      • If YES: Please answer Question #2.
      • If NO: Testing is not needed. If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, stay home and monitor symptoms for 14 days.

      Question 2: Are your symptoms severe?

      • If YES: Call your doctor or 911.
      • If NO: Please answer Question #3.

      Question 3: Are you over 60? And/or do you have an underlying medical condition like diabetes, cancer or heart disease?

      • If YES: Contact your doctor to determine if testing is needed.
      • IF NO: Testing is not needed. Stay home for 7 days from symptom onset and 72 hours after fever is gone and symptoms improve (whichever is longer) to avoid getting anyone else sick.

      You may also visit the CDC's Coronavirus Self-Checker at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/index.html

      What to do if you suspect you have COVID-19

      COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop symptoms, follow the CDC’s steps below to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

      • Stay home except to get medical care. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
      • Call ahead before visiting your doctor and tell them that you may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
      • As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people and pets/animals in your home. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
      • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home everyday.
      • You should wear a cloth face covering, over your nose and mouth if you must be around other people even at home).
      • Visit CDC's What to do if you are sick for more information

      Is there treatment for COVID-19?

      There is no treatment or cure for COVID-19. For most people, the illness is generally mild and can be safely managed at home. Speak with your doctor about ways you can manage COVID-19 symptoms.

      What to do if you own pets

      CDC is aware of a small number of pets, including dogs and cats, reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19. Only a few of the animals reported to be positive showed signs of illness.

      The first case of an animal testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in the United States was a tiger with a respiratory illness at a zoo in New York City. Samples from this tiger were taken and tested after several lions and tigers at the zoo showed signs of respiratory illness. Public health officials believe these large cats became sick after being exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding virus. This investigation is ongoing. On April 22, the CDC and the USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in two pet cats. These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for COVID-19.

      Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would other human family members to protect them from a potential infection.

      • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
      • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
      • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
      • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

      There is a very small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after having contact with a person with COVID-19. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet gets sick or if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

      Visit CDC's If You Have Animals webpage for more information.

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      For more information on COVID-19 and what you can do to protect yourself and your family, please visit:

      COVID-19 Resources page

      COVID-19 Press Releases

      Ford County COVID-19 Cases

      CDC's Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

      • Agency on Aging
      • Community Care Coordination
      • DHS
      • CDC
      • Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services