Regional Updates On Coronavirus Preparation | WAMC

Regional Updates On Coronavirus Preparation

Mar 5, 2020

Northern New York and Vermont officials provided updates Thursday on coronavirus response preparedness.

At his weekly press conference Thursday afternoon, Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read joined with Clinton County Health Department officials to talk about local readiness for coronavirus cases.  Read noted that there are no current cases in the city or county but he would not be surprised if cases soon surface.  "Montreal actually has cases and as you know they're very close to us. A lot of people going back and forth between Montreal and Plattsburgh. I wouldn't be surprised if Clinton County, given our border proximity, could be one of the earlier areas to experience some positive cases so we need to watch for that.”

There has been panic buying of facemasks, causing shortages to both the public and medical personnel. Clinton County Health Department Director of Health Care Services Erin Streiff said at this time, use of masks by the general public is discouraged and should be used only in specific circumstances.  “The recommendation right now: if you are sick with a cough and you need to go to a hospital or see a health care provider, we do ask that you put a mask on and those masks are available in the hospital and at provider offices. So right now the general public is not being asked to wear masks. And I do want to emphasize I mean I've heard that even hardware stores are running out of dust masks for paint. That's not the type of mask that's going to prevent anyone from getting the coronavirus.”

"There is currently no evidence that a member of the well public is going to reduce their chances of contracting this virus by walking around with a mask on.”
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine spoke at Governor Phil Scott’s weekly press conference early Thursday.  “Nonetheless, if there's a member of the ill public who's actively coughing and have left their home and are in a place where they could potentially be in contact with other members of the public, it is fine for them to be wearing a mask and they should be.”

Gov. Scott said the state is ready to respond when the virus spreads into Vermont. Health Commissioner Levine reported there have been no laboratory confirmed cases Vermont but it is surrounded by states and Canadian provinces that have reported coronavirus cases.  “I thought it was important for Vermonters to understand what this illness is. The majority of people will have a fever.  The majority of people will have a dry cough. Those who may get more significantly ill may have symptoms such as shortness of breath and malaise. It's important to know, at our current state of knowledge about this virus, that greater than 80% of the humans that have contracted the virus have had what would be termed a mild or moderate illness, certainly not one requiring hospitalization. So it is the minority that have had more severe symptoms and required more medical intervention.”

Vermont officials are working with the New Hampshire Department of Health after the first person who tested positive in that state violated a voluntary quarantine while awaiting results and attended a party with more than 100 people in White River Junction.