Dutchess County works to protect residents from novel coronavirus


POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health reminds residents that coronaviruses are an extremely common family of viruses that can cause fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. 

A novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Over time and with person-to-person spread occurring, cases have been identified beyond China facilitated by international travel. Currently, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people, but the situation is evolving rapidly. 

Cases have been identified within the United States associated with travel from China, but there has been no evidence of sustained transmission. 

The county health department said residents should be aware that spread from person-to-person happens most often among close contacts (about 6 feet). Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It’s currently unclear if a person can get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Health Commissioner A.K. Vaidian said, “There are currently no confirmed cases of novel Coronavirus in New York State. There are currently no confirmed cases in Dutchess County, despite the spread of reports on social media stating the opposite.  The likelihood of cases being identified in Dutchess County is low, but, as a county, we remain vigilant and are ready to be called on to respond to and address any resident’s concerns they may have.”

It is important to know that individuals are at greater risk for other respiratory illnesses in our area, such as influenza and it’s not too late to get a flu shot.  

The health department recommends everyone six months and older be vaccinated against the flu to reduce their risk of becoming ill.  You can protect yourself from respiratory viruses, such as influenza and 2019-nCoV by:

  1. Washing your hands regularly.
    Germs and viruses are found on frequently touched surfaces, such as keyboards, handles, doorknobs, and railings.  Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.  
  2. Covering your cough.
    Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  3. Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects.
    Use disinfectant to clean telephones, keyboards, doorknobs, desktops, etc.
  4. Staying home when you are sick.
    If you are not feeling well, stay home.  Limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.  If you need to see your healthcare provider, call ahead and let them know you are coming in.  Ask for a mask to be available before you enter the provider’s office.    
  5. Increasing the distance between you and other people.
    Most respiratory illnesses, like flu, can be transmitted through close contact, including kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, cups, and cigarettes, talking to someone closely, and touching someone directly.  In community settings, you will want to keep at least six feet between you and others. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

For up-to-date information on the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), please visit www.DutchessNY.gov/Coronavirus. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.  If you have a question about your risk of exposure, call the New York State Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline at (888) 364-3065.

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