Tag Archive for: COVID-19

Local officials continue to make adjustments to deal with and help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

No cases had been reported in Union County Monday morning but state officials did say a presumptive case had been reported in Monroe County. Other cases have been more in the central and southern sections of the state.

The Union County Board of Supervisors met Monday but took no official position on closings, leaving it up to department heads to determine whether access should be limited or offices closed. It was not clear what authority they might have under the governor’s emergency declaration.

Board President Randy Owen did say that the Union County Library and Union County Heritage Museum will be closed this week and their programs including Luncheon With Books and Museum Moments cancelled, at least for the time being. Some or all may be rescheduled.

Owen said the Union County Fairgrounds will not be rented out for now and the Union County Extension Office is cancelling its programs as well.

County solid waste workers will wear gloves and may wear protective suits as well. Changes are having to be made concerning the garbage trucks because the county has been using jail trusties to help but no longer will be allowed to under the circumstances.

One county department that is making changes is the tax assessor-collector’s office, which normally sees a high volume of traffic.

Assessor-Collector Tameri Dunnam said her office will continue to be open normal hours but to protect employees and the public she is limiting visits to only those people who much file for 2020 Homestead Exemption or register for a recently purchased vehicle or mobile home. “Those are things that must be signed for,” she said.

She said people should renew vehicle tags or pay delinquent taxes by mail. Call 534-1972 for the correct amount and mail the payment to Union County Tax Collector, PO Box 862, New Albany, MS 38652.

With no election or full court term coming up, Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford does not expect many people in her office and is not limiting accessibility at this time.

However, the spring Union County grand jury session scheduled for March 25 will be postponed. Stanford said summonses have already been sent out but those receiving them have a number to call to learn more.

Mayor Tim Kent announced precautionary measures for city offices this past Friday. Generally, he asked citizens to handle business with city departments by mail or phone whenever possible. Utility bills are to be paid at the drive-through window in the office on Cleveland Street, or by mail.

Coincidentally, the public service commission has voted to suspend disconnections of light, gas, water or sewer connections for 60 days during the declared emergency. This order does not relieve customers of having to pay their bills, however.

The New Albany Wal-Mart will only be open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. to aid in restocking and sanitizing, and The Mall at Barnes Crossing will be open from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Great American Cleanup, scheduled for March 21, is being moved to April 18.

The fate of some other events was still being determined.

They include:

Auditions for “Ring of Fire” at the Magnolia Civic Center

A reception honoring retired fire chief Steve Coker

Performances of “Hee Haw” to benefit the Cancer Relay for Life

The Shamrock Shuffle humane society benefit

The Pharoahs Car Club car show

Donuts for Disney

and, planned for next week, the UNITE grant presentation banquet and Night Out for New Albany

New dates will be announced when available.

northeast MS news mitigation and religion
“The bottom line is, in a pandemic, crowds are your enemy.” –Elizabeth Shiverdecker


By Elizabeth Shiverdecker



Northeast MS – Throughout the world, devoutly religious people have been particularly vulnerable to coronavirus infection and have unwittingly contributed to its spread. Religious groups have been found to be at the center of outbreaks in South Korea, Iran, and just recently in New Rochelle in Upstate New York. This is due in part to the close proximity among congregants, as well as to practices such as communion, shared food and the passing around of the collection plate.

Major events all over the country such as political rallies, sporting events, concerts and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have been cancelled. Schools and universities are closing as well. But so far, politicians and public health officials have shied away from telling religious Americans to stay home on Sunday.

At this point, containment of a pandemic infection is a lost cause; virus mitigation is now the next line of defense. The goal of mitigation is to slow down the rate of new infections by making it more difficult for it to jump from one victim to the next. In other words, we must spread the inevitable number of infections over the longest possible time.

Why make the spread of infection last longer?

As the virus runs its course, about the same number of people will ultimately be infected no matter what precautions we take. Spreading them over a longer time keeps healthcare and other community resources from being overwhelmed or exhausted. Hospital beds, respirators, medications, healthcare workers and other resources are in limited quantities. It takes time to adequately clean, to restock supplies and to let front line healthcare workers rest between surges.

At any given time, there are only a certain amount of resources on hand. And if, on any given day, there are more victims than can be effectively cared for, the available resources will go to those with the best chance for survival. Bluntly, the quicker the infection spreads, the more of us will die. Our chances of survival are drastically increased by each of us doing our part in the damage-control effort by isolating ourselves, avoiding crowds, washing our hands, etc.

Already, cancellations of sporting events, social gatherings and travel have been ignored or protested by folks who don’t want to have their plans disrupted, or just plain don’t want to be told what to do. This is understandable. People have worked hard, saved their pennies and looked forward to “Gittin’ in amongst the folks,” cheering, jeering, and sharing food, personal space and airborne saliva droplets with people they know little to nothing about.

The bottom line is, in a pandemic, crowds are your enemy. By staying home and using technology to participate remotely this time, you increase the chances that you and more of the “folks” will be around next time for the in-person experience. School and sporting events, cruises, reunions, and concerts must be avoided. Your life or that of someone you love may depend on it.(See links to local churches that stream services at end of article.)

What can local congregations do for the community?

Church is a cornerstone of life in our communities, providing comfort and opportunities for fellowship, and hope to people in despair. Those things are crucial to our well-being, and never more so than in times of fear and uncertainty. Many of us will balk at being told to skip church, even knowing the stakes involved.

Elected officials are generally loathe to address the church issue. Church leaders and the congregants themselves must, therefore, step up and look for ways to remind us that we are all in this together, even as we do the responsible thing by isolating ourselves and protecting those we love.

One great thing churches could do is mobilize their young healthy members to help the elderly and vulnerable in our community. Many will be forced to stay home and will be dependent upon civic-minded people to bring them food, medicine and other vital supplies. Churches could also enlist members to make daily phone calls to home-bound people, make sure they’re OK, and let them hear a friendly voice.

For the rest of us, many churches have televised services which you can follow from the safety of home.Telephones and the Internet make it easier than ever for us to stay in touch with our brethren. God hears you no matter where you pray. So, for Heaven’s sake, stay home; protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your community.

Sources and more information links:

Why mitigation is mandatory: https://www.cleveland.com/news/2020/03/mad-about-coronavirus-cancellations-heres-why-mitigating-the-curve-matters.html

New Rochelle synagogue epicenter of outbreak: https://www.cbs58.com/news/what-life-is-like-inside-the-coronavirus-containment-zone-in-new-rochelle-new-york

Christian sect in South Korea spreads virus, prevents government from tracking its members: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51701039

Shia Muslim pilgrims at the heart of the Iranian outbreak: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/25/coronavirus-middle-iran-denies-cover-up-qom-refugees

In an unprecedented move, Vatican orders all Catholic churches in Rome closed: https://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/coronavirus-deaths-in-italy-top-1000

Polish bishop says it’s “unimaginable” to close churches, orders more masses insteadhttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-poland-masses/polish-church-wants-more-masses-to-meet-coronavirus-limits-idUSKBN20X291

Streaming links to local churches. Services will be added to this list as they become known to NEMiss.NEWS:


Friday afternoon New Albany Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lance Evans announced that school officials met and decided that it will be in the best interest of students to close school March 15-20 and all school events and practices will be suspended until March 23 at least. They plan to continue meeting and issue a new statement March 17 on the school’s social media account.

Union County Superintendent Ken Basil made a similar announcement, extending spring break through March 16-20 with school activities suspended until March 23.

Both cited the health and safety of students and staff as well as President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency.

Original story

New Albany Mayor Tim Kent met with department heads Friday morning to establish more precautionary measures for city employees in light of the spreading COVID-19 virus.

The Mississippi Department of Health reported Friday that three presumptive cases of the virus had been reported in Forest County. It was not clear whether they were connected and officials were investigating that.

“We’re going to have a notice for all departments to place on their doors and for all employees,”Kent said. The notice, to be prepared by city attorney Regan Russell, was to help explain the city’s position and appears at the end of this story.

Here are specific precautionary measures:

  • Municipal court – will continue as is unless there is an increase in infection
  • Police department – it will be mandatory for officers to wear rubber gloves and regularly use hand sanitizer (officers do wear leather gloves at times and this will supersede that)
  • Fire department – the biggest concern was for Emergency Medical Responders who respond to all calls. They now will only respond to likely stroke and heart attack calls. Also, the fire department living quarters will be closed to all outside visitors.
  • Park department – in addition to cancelling the softball tournament this weekend, the Park Along the River will be closed until further notice. That is because the playground equipment is seen as a possible source of contagion. People may still use the Tanglefoot Trail or Tallahatchie Trails for walking.
  • Street department – workers, particularly on the garbage trucks, will wear protective disposable Tyvek suits and rubber gloves, and will be required to use hand sanitizer every hour.
  • Light, gas and water department – No walk-in customers will be allowed for the time being. Bill payment can be done at the drive-up window or overnight and people can call about hookups or other business. In the office the staff can be separated and, if necessary, thinned out with employees working at alternating times. Crews will report directly to work sites.
  • City Hall – employees are already spaced out enough to meet social distancing requirements. Anyone with business will be asked to call rather than come in and a notice will be placed on the door. The door won’t be locked unless the situation worsens.

“We’re going to meet once a week and re-evaluate everything every two weeks,”Mayor Kent said. “This is step one of three steps. We will go to step two, which is more restrictive, if necessary.”

He reiterated that the situation is changing on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, particularly as far as hospitals are involved.

Kent said he is still concerned about churches and schools in particular.

“The Mississippi Health Department said to me anything over 200 (should be avoided),”he said.

“I wish they would keep the schools closed two or three more days,”he added, but that is not his decision. New Albany school superintendent Dr. Lance Evans issued a statement saying they were monitoring the situation and conferring with health and education officials. They said any changes would be posted on social media over the weekend.

Both superintendents were out of the country on spring break cruises this week. State institutes of higher learning have extended their spring break period by a week and several are arranging to have classes available by way of the internet.

Kent said his only other recommendation would be for everyone to follow the common sense advice health officials are giving. That especially includes good hand-washing and hygiene and social distancing.


Events and public buildings  changes:

City officials cancelled a softball tournament scheduled for Saturday at BNA Bank Park.

A series of activities scheduled for Saturday, March 21, will still be held, except for a performance of “Hee Haw.”

“They are all outside and should be fine,”Community Development Director Billye Jean Stroud said. The “Hee Haw”performance was being sponsored by the Tallahatchie River Players and is usually a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. It may be rescheduled.

The Pi Day activities, scheduled for the Union County Heritage Museum Saturday, March 14, have been cancelled but museum officials hope to reschedule them.

Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said he had conferred with the jail administrator and school resource officers and because of the expected influx of students returning from spring break.

“You don’t know where they have been or what they are bringing back,”he said, “so we have decided to end jail visitation until the end of the month.”

Edwards said they would take a look at the policy later. He added that they have placed a table in the lobby of the law enforcement center with hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes for people to use.


Here is the public notice to be placed on doors to city buildings:


Public Notice – March 13, 2020


The City of New Albany and its officials are monitoring events associated with the corona virus disease, and we remain fully committed to providing for the needs of our city and its citizens during this time of uncertainty.  Given the challenges and threats presented by a global pandemic, we realize that careful and thoughtful planning are essential to minimizing the impact of this virus on our community.  Experience is clearly demonstrating that places that take pro-active steps early fare much better than those caught by surprise and thereby avoid the worst effects of the epidemic.


The City will remain in contact with local and state organizations and agencies, including the Mississippi Department of Health, MEMA, the CDC, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Union County officials, local school officials and law enforcement. And we are fully committed to educating our citizens as to the risks of this virus and the best methods to minimizing those risks, while fully maintaining essential governmental services.


The COVID-19 virus appears to pose minimal threat to the young and healthy, and we encourage our citizens to go about their lives as normally as possible with certain common sense precautions.  The economic well-being of our community, its downtown and its vibrant local businesses depend upon your continuing patronage, with common precautions in mind. 


However, because of the significant threat the virus poses to our most vulnerable citizens and with a goal of preventing our health care facilities from being overwhelmed by a rapid spread of the virus within the community, we strongly encourage our citizens to avoid leaving the home if you are ill, to self-quarantine if you have been-or believe you may have been-exposed to the virus, to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, to teach your children to do the same, to assist them as may be necessary, to maintain social distance to the degree possible and to look out for the well-being of our neighbors.  Further, the City may cancel public community events and access to public places as we deem necessary and beneficial.  These steps may prove crucial to the health and well-being of our community and our families.  For these reasons we deem it necessary to be proactive.


The challenges presented by this pandemic could prove daunting and may involve difficult temporary personal sacrifices and burdens.  If so, we are confident that our common community traits of strength, commitment to the well-being of our families and a strong spiritual foundation will serve us well.  This is a challenge which we can and will face with grace and clear resolve, as our country’s forefathers ever have.


The situation is fluid and quickly developing.  Notices and advisements from the City and its departments to the public will be posted or linked as they become available.  Local schools will also release notices as they deem necessary and appropriate.  The City is fully committed to assisting and aiding the schools and the families they serve, as circumstances may require.


For those who desire further information, the Mississippi Department of Health has a MS COVID-19 hotline:  1-877-978-6453.  Up to date information and answers to common questions may also be found at the MSDH website, HealthyMS.com/COVID-19.  Local notices and links will be posted on VisitNewAlbany.comand other city sites


Mayor Tim Kent


New Albany MS Corona Virus and Polio
“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.”

              – J.R.R. Tolkien


New Albany, MS – When I was eight, my six year old brother, Phil, was one of the many US polio fatalities in 1954, the very year that field trials began for Salk’s vaccine. Phil fell ill on a family visit to my grandparents in Pontotoc.  A physician assured my parents that, while he was very sick, he definitely did not have polio. When the doctor thought a car trip was feasible, we drove home to Memphis. My 2 year old sister and I were dropped off with family friends. Phil was taken to the Gaston Isolation Hospital in Memphis. My parents were not allowed to be with him, and he died of bulbar poliomyelitis ( a somewhat uncommon form) the same night he was admitted. He died calling for his mother, only about five days after falling ill. She never really recovered from his death.

Our family was in quarantine for weeks. There was a brightly colored sign on our front door. But we were not unique. Other neighborhood families, as well as the friends who had looked after me and my sister, had quarantine signs. Phil’s was the only death I’m aware of.  My folks did not go out to work or buy groceries. Friends and neighbors helped with that. The following year, I was among the 4 million people, mostly school children, vaccinated with the Salk vaccine – with practically no questions asked by my parents or anyone else’s. They had lived through the nightmarish alternative. This childhood experience colored my life in many ways. For one thing, I am more likely than some to believe that situations arise where consideration of the “greater good” must trump individual rights.

Individual rights versus the public’s health

During that polio epidemic and epidemics of many stripes, individual rights often took a back seat to public safety. In failed attempts at prevention, communities restricted travel and commerce. Quarantines of varying duration were imposed on families of victims. Often, those diagnosed with polio were confined, isolated in hospitals, often against the will of their parents and loved ones.  These measures seem draconian to some. Though I abhor the thought of them, I do understand the reasoning behind them.

In 1952, Jonas Salk directed the first tests of a killed-virus vaccine on human subjects – institutionalized, physically and intellectually disabled children. In 1953 he tested the vaccine on his family.  In April of 1954 a randomized double-blind study involving over 1.3 million school children began. Only the testing team knew which children actually received the vaccine. When results were announced in April 1955, the vaccine was said to be safe and 80-90% effective. That same day, Salk’s vaccine was licensed by the U.S. government.

New Albany MS Quarantine sign

We had a notice similar to this on our door in 1954.

Then, over the next several weeks, reports surfaced of children with paralysis in their vaccinated arm. Most had received vaccine produced by Cutter Labs in California. Use of all vaccine was suspended in May, 1955. Eleven people died and hundreds more were paralyzed. Investigations were done and production changes were instituted.  Vaccinations were soon continued.

Since 1979, no cases of polio have originated in the United States. That is over 40 years without several thousand “Phils” dying annually of polio.

Better living through science…and vigilance

New Albany, MS Polio epidemic

Sign barring children under sixteen from entering town, posted on a tree during the 1916 New York City polio epidemic Courtesy of March of Dimes

Public health improvements, preventative vaccines, and public education have made it possible to bring many dragons under control. Smallpox,diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough and tetanus have largely disappeared for our lives. This is not something to be taken for granted. Many places in the world are still struggling with some of these illnesses. Dropping our defenses, becoming complacent, could mean we see them again.

The “Spanish Flu” pandemic killed over 50 million people world-wide in 1918. Now we’ve come to have yearly influenza vaccines available against expected strains. Often, those vaccines are offered free. Still, more than half of our citizens do not get the vaccine.

Yet another healthcare dragon needs slaying

Today, many public health officials believe us to be on the edge of a possible coronavirus pandemic. According to World Health Organization, there are now 81,000 cases in 44 countries with about 3000 deaths. Information varies wildly in this rapidly changing situation. However more and more officials are using the word “pandemic” in their updates. Many consider it inevitable that the US will soon be caught up in this emergency.

According to  Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases: “It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses. Disruption to everyday life might be severe.” Other officials have mentioned travel restrictions, school closings, enforced isolation, etc.

I am optimistic that this dragon, too, will eventually be slain. However, it is unlikely to happen quickly, or without problems and inconveniences. It is our responsibility to do what we can to smooth our own pathways. Unfortunately, taking responsibility for ourselves is becoming less and less of a national trait.  “The government” cannot be counted on to do everything for us in this situation, nor should it.

Having been a pharmacist for over 40 years, I often get questions from folks about medical issues. I recently sent texts to many of my family and friends outlining some facts about coronavirus and making one major suggestion. This includes a lack of known treatment, the absence of available vaccines, even lack of knowledge of exactly how this virus spreads. Additionally, many are critical of the US State Department’s handling of several patients with active infections. Memphis officials have chosen to let about 20 persons possibly exposed to COVID-19 “self-isolate” in their homes. no one knows what is actually happening in China, the source of this immediate outbreak. And the list goes on.

At my house, we have purchased several weeks of non-perishable foods, animal supplies, medications, toiletry items, batteries, cleaning supplies, etc. –all things we would eventually use under normal circumstances. Our goal is to be able to immediately begin avoiding public stores, restaurants, etc., as much as possible, when we hear of coronavirus is in our region.

Within the past few hours, reports have surfaced of what is believed to be the first confirmed coronavirus case in the US  of unknown origin. CDC officials have said that it may be time to begin practicing “social distancing.” See: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/27/coronavirus-update-cdc-test-covid-community-spread-case/4889999002/

Today, while you have time and a window of opportunity, make a plan that will make things easier and less stressful.  Should the worst predictions come to pass, things will get unpleasant for all of us very quickly.  If this happens, you will be prepared to deal with the situation. If it does not come to pass, you have lost nothing.

Don’t be like the last person to hear the “snow” word in a Mississippi weather forecast. You know all the milk, bread and pop tarts will already be gone.


For more information on COVID-19 virus and protecting against it.

Protecting against coronavirus: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

The latest news on the virus: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/484530-top-health-official-warns-coronavirus-spread-in-us-inevitable-its-not-a

General preparedness ideas from Union County Emergency Management Director, Curt Clayton: http://newalbanyunionco.com/emergency-management-director-gives-home-preparedness-hints/



New Albany MS – Much is being written about coronavirus, some of it quite confusing, as often happens in a fast-moving event. What are some of the important points everyone should know about this new public health menace?  NEMiss.news brings its readers a distillation of some pertinent facts and events. One take-away? Do not trust your public health to the Chinese government.

What is a coronavirus?

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced the official name of COVID-19 for the disease that is causing the current deadly outbreak of coronavirus disease.

Coronavirus is named for the crown-like spikes on the surface of the virus. (Corona is the Latin word for crown). With the addition of COVID-19, there are now seven coronaviruses known to infect humans, according to the CDC.  These viruses generally spread via human contact with an infected person, but may also be able to infect from surface contamination. They typically cause cold-like symptoms, such as cough, fever and runny nose.  While some are mild, others have the tendency to cause pneumonia.

Two well-known manifestations of coronaviruses are SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).   SARS emerged in late 2002 and disappeared by 2004; MERS emerged in 2012 and remains viable in camels.

Where did COVID-19 come from?

The Covid-19 coronavirus is similar to one detected in bats in China in 2013.  No action was taken following warnings issued by those who studied the 2013 virus. Therefore, an opportunity to protect human health was missed..

NE Mississippi news Dr. LI Wenliang

Dr. Li Wenliang

Some researchers believe the Covid-19 virus passed to humans from pangolins, which are scaly anteaters, mammals of the order Pholidota. However others believe pangolins are merely victims of the infection, like humans. “From the virology evidence available to date, the virus is almost certainly from a species of bat,” says Andrew Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London.

The current deadly outbreak of COVID-19 was first brought to light by Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist working in Wuhan, China.  Using the WeChat social platform, he warned other physicians in December 2019 that he had seen SARS-like infections in Wuhan.  SARS had killed about 800 people in 2002-2003 in China. Within a few days, local police summoned Dr. Li and forced him to sign a statement in which he admitted to “making false statements.” Thus ended the chance that world health officials could quickly get ahead of this fast-moving virus.

New Albany ms giant pangolin

Giant pangolin, Naturl History Museum, London. Said to be the world’s most trafficked mammal.

Dr. Li Wenliang, age 34, died of the COVID-19 coronavirus on February 7, 2020.  By the time of his death, the then-unnamed coronavirus was well on its way to becoming a major, world-wide health issue.

By the way, Chinese officials also tried, unsuccessfully, to cover up the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.

How far has the new coronavirus now spread?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 to be global health emergency. It has killed at least 1,770 people in mainland China, with cases confirmed in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa.

As of Feb. 17, COVID-19 cases were confirmed in China, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, the United States, France, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Germany, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Finland, India, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Spain, Belgium and Egypt.

Nearly half of China’s population — more than 780 million people — are currently living under various forms of travel restrictions  in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19.

As of the time this story was written, there are 58,625 active cases world wide, 20% of which are “serious,” and there are 12,837 cases considered to be “recovered.”  There have been a total of 1874 deaths reported: 1869 in China and one each in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Philipines.

There are currently 15 active cases reported in the US.  So far, cases have been diagnosed in California, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and now Texas, according to the CDC.

What’s the story about coronavirus patients in Memphis?

According to the Shelby County Health Department Director, Dr. Alisa Haushalter, there are currently 20 people are in” self-isolation for observation for coronavirus in Shelby County, after traveling to higher risk areas overseas.  Dr. Haushalter said while none of the 20 people showed any coronavirus symptoms, they’ll each spend two weeks in self-isolation, as recommended by the Centers For Disease Control.

“This epidemic has evolved very, very quickly,” Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter said. “When people traveled initially, it may not have been a concern, as they travel back, it may be more of a concern. They’ve been asked to remain at home for a set period of time,” Dr. Haushalter said. “This is your public health system at work.”

So far, there’s still no confirmed cases in the Mississippi, Tennessee or Arkansas.

Can anything be done to prevent COVID-19?

The CDC recommends people avoid non-essential travel to China, where the most coronavirus cases are reported.

Coronaviruses in general are spread through close contact — a range of about 3 to 6 feet. The virus is primarily spread through a sick person coughing or sneezing on someone else.  Infection may also be spread through contact with the virus particles on surfaces,  though it’s  still unknown how long the new coronavirus can survive outside of the body.  So, follow these suggestions for routine prevention:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people in your home.
  • Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., shortness of breath or difficulty breathing).
  • In the unlikely event you or a family member are placed on home isolation or admitted to a hospital for COVID-19, more specific procedures will be put into place. To see CDC guidelines.

Disinfectants can kill the coronavirus. The CDC suggests that anyone exposed to an infected patient clean all “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables. Cleaning agents can include a household disinfectant with a label that says “EPA-approved,” according to the CDC. A homemade version can be made, using one tablespoon of bleach to one quart of water.

Beware of a much more likely viral problem: Influenza

Shelby County Health Director Dr. Haushalter said, “People should be more concerned about the flu. We lose thousands of people in the United States each year as a result of the flu.”

“I think we are so accustomed to it coming annually that we get complacent about that, but that’s actually more likely to cause harm, particularly in our area, than coronavirus.”