On Tuesday, February 25, public health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Reported outbreaks in other countries beyond China are causing concern for a potential novel coronavirus pandemic. When a new virus spreads among people, causing illness worldwide, it is called a pandemic.
There is low risk of coronavirus infection in Tompkins County because individual risk is dependent on exposure, and there are currently no confirmed cases in New York State. Our community and individuals must take responsibility to maintain our well-being and protect the health of others. The best ways to slow the spread of illness are to take everyday actions, including stay home from work and school if you are sick, cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, and wash your hands often.
Tompkins County Health Department (TCHD) continues to monitor and respond with guidance from NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the CDC. Public health response is focused on containment of the virus and preparation for any emergent situations that may arise in the future.
TCHD continues to be notified of any travelers from China returning to Tompkins County. Community health nurses are contacting, evaluating travel itineraries, and determining if quarantine is necessary for travelers. Anyone who is quarantined is monitored daily for the 14-day period. To date, none of these individuals have developed symptoms.
It is always important to be prepared and consider plans for extended illness both from a personal and community perspective. Personal health preparedness is an important community strategy for decreasing the effects of a virus:
- Stay home from school and work if you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol)
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects
- Get the flu vaccination if you have not done so already
- Talk to your employer about plans for working from home
- Encourage sick employees to stay home
- Provide tissues to cover cough and sneeze
- Encourage frequent hand washing, provide soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces
- Follow travel advisories and avoid non-essential travel
- Share plans with employees that may include working from home
- Refer to CDC Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- Adapt CDC Flu Pandemic checklists
A reminder that COVID-19 may cause symptoms including:
- Trouble breathing
If you returned from an affected area in the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or trouble breathing, you should:
- Seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others until you are well.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Disinfect surfaces
As this situation evolves, TCHD will continue to send out updates. The actions you take and plans you make today matter.
Stay informed. Get updated information on COVID-19 at:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- NYS Department of Health
- World Health Organization
- Tompkins County Health Department
- Visit the CDC's Traveler's Health webpage for the latest travel health notices
- A hotline is available for New Yorkers to call for information about COVID-19: 1-888-364-3065.
The Tompkins County Health Department is your partner for a healthy community. Find us online at TompkinsCountyNY.gov/health, and follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth and on Twitter at @TompkinsHealth.