For our weekly 2:30pm Thursday press conference, the City of Plattsburgh, in collaboration with the Clinton County Health Department, will provide information regarding the Coronavirus in the City Press Room adjacent to the Mayor’s Office on Thursday, March 5 at 2:30p. In attendance will be Erin Streiff, Director of Health Care Services at the Clinton County Health Department.
The Coronavirus Disease, officially called COVID-19, has managed to spread by human contact within the United States, but not yet in our region. Nonetheless, it is important that we remain informed. In this press release, I describe the incidence rate in New York State, and outline some facts for you to keep in mind.
To this point, there have been 11 positive cases, out of 98 investigated cases in NYS, mostly in the NYC and Long Island region. Nationwide to now, 30% of the positive tests are travel-related, but less than 3% of those tested actually have the infection. Most of the travel-related cases come from U.S. residents aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship that was infected.
The virus is believed to be transmitted through fluids on the skin and through aerosol spray of the virus in the air occurring from coughing and sneezing. The Coronavirus has about twice the rate of infection as the common flu, with an infection rate of about 2 people for each person infected. That is why, if left unchecked, the overall infection rate can spread more rapidly than strains of influenza.
A mask reduces this exposure by 80% or more, both from transmission and reception of those wearing the mask. Of these two, masks are most effective if worn by those who may carry the virus by substantially reducing their ability to affect others.
The novelty of this virus means that our bodies have not built up the same sort of immunities that it has to other viruses. While it is viral in a similar way as the flu, its potency on our immune system is about ten times stronger. The death rate, while only between 1% to 2%, is about 10 times higher than influenza. Mortality is most often concentrated on those with other underlying health issues.
Some estimates are as high as 40-70% of the population that could be exposed to a virus of this sort. Most of these may not even know they are infected and may not have any symptoms. About 20% of those infected may need medical intervention. While there is an extremely high probability of full recovery over a period of 8 to 14 days, we do need to anticipate the needs, knowing that many of our health care professionals can also become ill.
While many of those infected don’t have pronounced symptoms, most have symptoms which include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Complications include pneumonia. If you have these symptoms, consult local health care providers. The hospital is prepared to do testing and screening as necessary.
Human to human transmission can be lessened by hand cleaning, the use of masks, and by avoiding unnecessary contact, especially in confined spaces. Since the virus is now spreading elsewhere through community contact, individuals of high risk of infection or spreading are advised to exercise care. This includes frequent hand washing for at least twenty seconds with soap and water, and hand sanitizers with a high alcohol content in excess of 60%. Those who are in frequent contact with the elderly and who may have been exposed to the virus may consider the use of an approved mask to prevent further transmission.
This is the season for greater transmission. Spaces tend to be more confined in the winter, and the greater level of dampness and cooler air keeps spray in the air circulating longer. Drier and warmer weather helps by reducing the moisture conducive to this contagion, and by allowing more of our interactions to be outdoors, which dilutes the spreading of droplets and sprays.
The City of Plattsburgh asks nursing and group homes, dormitories, the university and the hospital to screen clients and visitors and provide masks and appropriate hand sanitizers when appropriate.
We ask that prisons, group and nursing homes, the hospital, schools, the university, and places such as the DMV with large flows of customers keep the City and the County Health Department abreast of actions and observations. At this time, unless the local incidence rises, the City will be monitoring the situation and will not be recommending the curtailment of any activities. However, if you have symptoms and the ability to work from home, especially if you have cold or flu symptoms, we encourage you to do so. Meanwhile, we should go about our regular lives mindful but not in a state of fear. And we should certainly avoid travel to countries like China and South Korea and a region in Northern Italy that are experiencing community outbreaks of COVID-19. Our health department will keep us informed, and we will in turn ensure you have the information you need via links from our website.
Contacts from the Clinton County Health Department include:
1. John Kanoza, Director of Public Health, 518.565.4844
2. Erin Streiff, Director of Health Care Services, 518.565.4067
3. Mark Lafountain, Public Health Emergency Coordinator, 518.565.4864
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