Friday, September 25th, 2020

Health officials discuss coronavirus to crowd

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2020

Information about the new strain of coronavirus that has spread from China was presented at a public meeting called by the Huntington County Commissioners at the Huntington County Courthouse on Monday, March 2.

Representatives from the Huntington County Department of Health, along with Dr. Scott Stienecker, from Parkview Health, spoke at the meeting, which attracted a standing-room-only crowd in the courthouse’s GAR Room.

This coronavirus strain has been labeled “COVID-19,” which stands for “corona virus disease,” with “19” indicating the year it was discovered, 2019, explained Dr. Thomas Ringenberg, health officer with the Huntington County Department of Health.

Ringenberg noted that coronaviruses circulate in the animal kingdom, but that COVID-19 was unique. “This is one that basically mutated and is able to be transmitted from the animal kingdom to human, and then it goes from human to human,” he said.

Information from the Indiana State Department of Health that was disseminated at the meeting by the Huntington County Department of Health stated that COVID-19 has been shown to cause fever and signs of lower respiratory illness.

Ringenberg said that COVID-19’s mortality rate was between 2 and 3 percent. He compared that figure to the mortality rate for the influenza virus, which he stated was 2 percent.

“It is highly contagious,” said Ringenberg of COVID-19, “but at the same time, it’s not highly lethal.”

Stienecker said there are a handful of ways to combat COVID-19 at present.

“We … have three really good medicines, probably five or six that, once we better understand how to use them, really are going to be our mid-term solution,” he said. “But the long-term solution will be vaccination.”

On the topic of vaccination, Stienecker reported that there were two promising vaccines, but that it would probably be a year before either of them was available.

Stienecker said that household cleaners have been shown to be effective at eliminating COVID-19 from surfaces. On untreated surfaces at room temperature, he said, the disease can survive for five to six days.

Emily Schamehorn, public health nurse with the Huntington County Department of Health, provided several tips for preventing the contraction of COVID-19, should it appear in Indiana. As the spread of the disease can occur within six feet, she encouraged attendees to avoid contact with ill individuals. Additionally, she suggested that people avoid touching their faces and frequently wash their hands with soap and water, for a period of at least 20 seconds. She also recommended that, when feeling ill, people cover their mouths when coughing and stay at home, rather than go to work.

To download a copy of the presentation click this link here. For more information on COVID-19, which is updated daily, click https://www.in.gov/isdh/28470.htm and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html.