Simpson County working together to strategize response to COVID-19 threat

Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 10:20 AM CDT
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An emergency conference was held by the Simpson County Director of Emergency Management, Robert Palmer, on March 13 to bring together leaders of Franklin and Simpson County.

They discussed effects of the virus and the current - as well as potential - impacts it may have on the community in the coming days, weeks and potentially months.

They determined that they must produce a unified message to the community to ensure that everyone involved in the local response is committed to providing timely and accurate information to the citizens.

“The situation is unprecedented in any of our lifetimes," said Palmer in his opening statement to the participants. "Ensuring we do everything possible to get good and accurate information to the public to reduce fear and panic is imperative."

They have produced guidelines the public can do to help slow the spread of the virus: ·

· The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus so avoid close contact with people. Practice “social distancing” by keeping at least a six-foot buffer between you and other individuals. Stay vigilant with this practice as the time passes in the next few weeks or months as the response to this virus continues. This will be a marathon, not a sprint.

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water and not available.

Locally, preparedness efforts include the review of visitation policies at the Medical Center in Franklin as well as a change in protocols for EMS producing a screening procedure to identify at-risk patients being seen by ambulance crews in the community. Prohibiting visitors for the local nursing homes is also supported.

Patients have had mild to severe respiratory illness with the symptoms of:

· Fever

· Cough

· Shortness of breath

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact their medical provider to be evaluated by phone prior to going to the doctor’s office or clinic. Some medical practices now have Tele-health capabilities that allow the patient to see their provider without actually going to the office. They want to stress though that for any emergency do not hesitate to call 911 or go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital.

The group recognizes that a lot has happened in the country in a very short time and the expectation is that in response to this threat, a lot of quick decisions and recommendations will be presented to the public.

They ill be utilizing the city ad county AlertSense mass notification system to push out some information as well so they encourage citizens to sign up at one of