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As coronavirus spreads, DeKalb County CEO plans town hall to discuss outbreak

Avondale Estates COVID-19 Crime and public safety Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL Tucker

As coronavirus spreads, DeKalb County CEO plans town hall to discuss outbreak

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DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt


DeKalb County, GA – The number of coronavirus cases in Georgia continues to rise and DeKalb County’s chief executive officer has planned a town hall to discuss the county’s response.

At last count, Georgia had five confirmed cases of coronavirus, also called COVID-19, and six presumptive positives. The presumed cases are awaiting confirmation by the CDC. So far, there have been no reported cases in DeKalb County. The state will also take in passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta. The passenger list includes 34 Georgians and additional American citizens who were on the cruise ship off of the California coast. While at Dobbins, they will be tested and quarantined. They’re expected to arrive today, March 9, or tomorrow, March 10.

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The county’s town hall meeting is set for March 11 at 7 p.m. at Rehoboth Baptist Church, located at 2997 Lawrenceville Highway in Tucker.

“DeKalb County is ready to help its citizens, customers and visitors during any emergency, including the potential outbreak of coronavirus,” DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said in a press release. “The DeKalb Emergency Management Agency is ensuring that county departments remain aware and ready to respond and continue operations. I urge citizens to remain calm and take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of any respiratory virus.”

The event will be live-streamed as well. To view the live stream, click here.

Chinese health officials believe the virus came from an animal source in the city of Wuhan that then spread person-to-person. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that affect animals, including camels, cats and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Officials suspect the 2019 novel strain, identified as 2019-nCoV, emerged from the SARS virus, which killed hundreds around the globe in 2003. There is no vaccine for this strain of coronavirus.

According to the New York Times, coronavirus has so far caused 22 deaths in the United States. According to Al Jazeera, the number of fatalities around the world is nearly 3,600.

Symptoms include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath and can appear anywhere between two days or two weeks after exposure. The coronavirus spreads person-to-person, much like influenza, and can easily be contracted through exposure to someone who has the virus. In the current outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control said, symptoms have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Older people and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable.

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Here are the recommendations on coronavirus prevention from the DeKalb County Board of Health:

– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

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

– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

– Stay home when you are sick.

– Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.

– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The DeKalb County Board of Health is encouraging people not to buy facemasks.

“Surgical masks should be reserved for people who exhibit symptoms (to prevent them from spreading the virus through respiratory secretions such as saliva or mucus) and healthcare professionals who are taking care of sick people,” the DeKalb County Board of Health says. “Regular surgical face masks are not effective in protecting against the coronavirus, according to the CDC. A more specialized face mask known as N95 respirators are thicker than surgical masks and are fitted to a person’s face to keep out any viral particles.”

For more information from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.

Jessica Zorker & Kelsea Miller with Cronkite News contributed reporting to this story. 

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