While there are only 2 confirmed cases of Coronavirus 2019 in West Virginia, the likelihood of the many additional cases of the virus being found in the Mountain State is significant.

“We should all expect Coronavirus 2019 to be detected in Jackson County,” said Wendy Staats, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the Jackson County Health Department. “This is why now is the perfect time to prepare for the virus, and not panic. If we take precautions now, we will be in a far better position to respond and protect ourselves once the virus is actively circulating in our community or across the state.”

Communities across the nation including West Virginia are being encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prepare. The reason according to CDC, is that a COVID-19 outbreak could last for long time in the community, depending on severity. Taking time to create a household plan will not only help protect you during an outbreak, but also, those you love.

Here are ten steps recommended by CDC that you can take now to prepare now for COVID-19’s arrival in Jackson County.

1) Talk with people who need to be included in your plan

a. Meet with household members, other relatives, and friends to discuss the needs of each person in the home should an outbreak occur.

2) Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications

a. While those at highest risk for complications from the virus seem to be older adults and persons who have underlying chronic medical conditions, anyone can become ill. If you have specific health care issues that put you at higher risk of complications, you should speak with your doctor about the specific precautions you should take.

3) Get to know your neighbors

a. Talk with your neighbors about emergency planning. Social media can help you stay up to date with your neighbors, friends and family. It is also a good idea to check on the neighbors who may be at highest risk for complications.

4) Know the aid organizations in your community

a. Create a list of organizations that your household could contact in the event of a serious need. This can include health care services and your health care provider information. You may also add contact information for other support organizations that may provide mental health counseling services, food and other supplies.

5) Create an Emergency Contact List

a. One of the most important things you can do for your family is to know who they might need to contact in the event of emergency. This list can be used by your family, friends, neighbors, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the health department, and other community resources. Taking time to make this list outside of an emergency situation is easier. It is a good idea to ensure those closest to you have a complete list of all medications that you are currently taking.

6) Practice good personal health habits

a. Avoid close contact with people who are sick

b. Stay home when you are sick, except to seek medical care

c. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then discard tissue

d. Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects such as countertops, tables, light switches, door knobs, cabinet handles, refrigerator handle, microwave, stoves, etc.

e. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water is not available, then use hand sanitizer.

7) Choose a room in your home to separate sick household members from those who are healthy

a. If possible, identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use. Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick.

8) Learn about your child’s school or childcare facility dismissal policy

a. Schools and childcare facilities may close based upon risk of illness or guidance from public health officials. Check with these facilities to learn about early dismissals or what could prompt a closing. Remember, if your child is sick, then they should stay home.

9) Plan for workplace changes

a. Now is the time to discuss sick-leave policies and telework options with your employer. What happens if you need to stay home to care for a family member who is ill? What happens if you become ill?

10) Protect yourself during an outbreak

a. Stay home from work, school and all other activities if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

b. Keep away from others who are sick

c. Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet).

“Remember, COVID-19 is a virus that is highly contagious,” Health Officer Dr. John Snyder said. Taking time to adequately plan for the virus to arrive in Jackson County is important. While social distancing can help reduce the spread of disease, this list of actions you can take now to prepare should be considered and implemented. Your health is important. Your loved ones are depending on you. Preparedness is the key.”

To learn more about getting your home ready now for COVID-19, visit CDC at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html. You can also visit the local health department page at jacksoncountyhealthdepartment.com or our Facebook page at Jackson County Health Department – Moovin’ and Groovin’ Changing Lives.