The McPherson County Health is preparing for 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), before = there are confirmed cases in the county — or in Kansas.

The department is sending out a message to county residents — namely that they should not show up at a healthcare provider if they have conrona virus symptoms.

“If you are experiencing mild to severe respiratory illness, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and either have traveled recently to known infected areas, or had exposure to someone who has COVID-19, please call your primary care provider or hospital and tell them about your symptoms, travel or exposure,” wrote Shalei Shea, Director McPherson County Health Department, in an open letter to the public. “Do not show up to the healthcare facility without calling ahead and receiving special instruction.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms that may appear 2-14 days after exposure inlcude a fever, couth and shortness of breath. *

During the week of February 23, CDC reported community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in California (in two places), Oregon and Washington. Community spread in Washington resulted in the first death in the United States from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility.

According to the CDC, widespread outbreaks have occured China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

According to the McPherson County Health Department and the CDC, people can protect themselves with preventative actions including avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

If you are sick, to keep from spreading illness to others, you should stay home; cover your sneeze or cough with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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