Ocean County Health Officials urge caution amid coronavirus pandemic
Ocean County Health Officials remain proactive in their approach to addressing the Covid-19 coronavirus and are ready for a possible containment scenario.
Ocean County Public Health Coordinator Dan Regenye said that the OCHD has met with and had close communication with all the different stakeholders including the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association, the long term care association, Ocean County Senior Services, the hospitals, health centers, Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and Sheriff Mike Mastronardy to form a plan.
"I think we're at a good place right now with everything from a preparedness side," Regenye told WOBM News. "We have a lot of plans that are in place and we're able to flex those plans to whatever is really needed. If and when a vaccine becomes available we have plans to be able to distribute that county-wide just like we did during H1N1 in 2009."
Regenye said that they're also prepared to distribute the federal asset of the Strategic National Stockpile should and when it becomes available as well in Ocean County.
"We have the ability and multiple sites to receive and distribute that to anyone in the county," Regenye said.
As more people are being tested for the coronavirus, first responders are among those most at risk being on the front lines responding to calls about people who may be very ill.
Regenye said that there's a way first responders can protect themselves with some general precautions when heading to a call about someone being ill.
"If they're responding to a call and the person is sick, try to get that individual to wear a mask," Regenye said. "The masks are really recommended for those who are sick as oppose to those who are well but the first responders in having that close contact in proximity should be stepping up and doing the hand washing even more."
Some of the panic over the spread of the virus is the confusion over the actual symptoms.
People wonder if they just a common cold, allergies, sinusitis, the flu, pneumonia or the coronavirus itself.
Regenye said that if you experience symptoms such as a fever, dry cough or have difficulty breathing, start by remaining calm, then call your primary care physician, insurance company and even the Ocean County Health Department.
"If they do experience any of these symptoms the major thing is not to panic but to stay informed and contact their health care provider if they have any concerns," Regenye said. "If they're working with us, and we're either self-monitoring or we're working with them to be tested...if their symptoms get worse, we would ask them not to present themselves at the hospital or their physicians office. Work with us and we'll get you to the proper level of care with the proper notice to those establishments so you can get the proper level of treatment that's needed."
Every persons and family can all take the same basic precautionary hygiene measures, such as washing your hands for 20-seconds with soap and water, but Regenye said some have unique needs that have to be addressed especially if they have underlying medical conditions.
"If anyone in your family or circle of friends meets any of that criteria, if you're not well try to avoid contact and exposure to them," Regenye said. "We try to educate the residents that preparedness begins at home because every home plan is different, every family has unique needs whether it's a prescription that they may need to over the counter medication, they could have young children at home that may need baby supplies or they could have an elderly parent at home which means different things."
He said that every family knows best what they need so it's important to stay informed and develop a plan.
It's important for everyone to remain calm, informed and take care of themselves with basic and proper hygiene measures.
"Cover your cough. Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth. If you can't wash your hands try and use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that's at least 60-percent alcohol based. If you're sick stay home and try to avoid sick people," Regenye said.
Coronavirus questions are being handled by the health experts at the New Jersey Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
The Ocean County Health Department COVID-19 Answer Line is 732-341-9700, extension 7411.
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