Coronavirus worries?

County Operations Committee addressed on virus

Anderson County Health Department Director Charles Turner told members of the County Operations Committee Monday night that while the coronavirus “is here,” it is also nothing new.

The Operations Committee was discussing ways to limit exposure to county employees who come in contact with the public — especially emergency workers and law enforcement.

“A coronavirus is what you have when you have the common cold,” Turner told the committee. “It’s not a ‘super bug.’”

The World Health Organization website says, “Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”

What is being termed COVID-19 is the latest, and most virulent strain of coronaviruses, has made headlines throughout the world, but …

“I would stress to people to worry more about the flu,” Turner said. “It’s still flu season. It’s usually over by now, but this year it has lasted longer.”

The United States alone has reported 20,000 deaths due to influenza during this flu season. There have been 3,000 deaths world-wide linked to COVID-19.

Turner said four cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Tennessee and 35 states have reported cases.

“For most Americans, the risk (of getting the disease) is low. Even in places like Seattle, where the risk is elevated — it’s still low,” Turner said.

Turner said the state has set up a toll-free number (877 857 2945) to answer concerns about COVID-19, along with the Tennessee Department of Health website.

Turner said minimizing your risk is as simple as washing your hands thoroughly.

“And as hard as it is, try not to touch your eyes, nose, mouth,” he said.

Turner also noted the use face masks to prevent catching COVID-19 is a myth.

“It’s been found that it is spread by droplets,” he said. “It’s not airborne.”

Turner said using a mask is recommended if you have a coronavirus, the use of masks blocking droplets spread via sneezes and coughs. And stay away from people who are sick.

“Another thing I would stress to people, if you are sick, stay home,” Turner said.

“Employers with strict sick leave policies might want to relax those for now,” Turner said.

Turner reiterated that people should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm or cold water, use hand sanitizer with a 60-percent or greater alcohol content, and keep your distance from others who are sick (or if you are sick).

“Just be thoughtful,” Turner said.