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Coronavirus update: Agnes Scott postpones overseas travel; DeKalb Jail says it’s prepared

Business COVID-19 Decatur Metro ATL

Coronavirus update: Agnes Scott postpones overseas travel; DeKalb Jail says it’s prepared

Signs indicate hand sanitizer is temporarily unavailable at a DeKalb County supermarket on March 2, 2020. Photo: Dean Hesse.
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Decatur, GA – The global spread of coronavirus continues to reverberate in Decatur and DeKalb County.

There are no local cases currently, but cases elsewhere are having an effect on our community.

Agnes Scott College has postponed trips planned as part of its Global Journeys program for first-year students. In the spring semester, first-year students at Agnes Scott have the opportunity to take a week-long trip to another country.

According to an email sent to students, there was a global study tour planned for Japan and immersion experiences planned for Milan and Croatia. The college canceled the trip to Japan and postponed the other trips. This week, Agnes Scott postponed all global immersion experiences for its first-year students.

“We remain deeply committed to providing all of our students with global learning, and will update students about alternative plans in the coming days,” the college said in its message to students.

They aren’t the only local academic institution affected by the spread of the virus. The Emory Wheel reported that Emory University suspended its study abroad programs in Italy over concerns about the virus

In a press release, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office says it is assuring families of inmates that the jail is ready if cases are detected there.

“The jail infirmary can accommodate patients with infectious diseases,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “However, the agency partners with state and federal health departments to implement industrywide protocols and guidelines for containment of infectious diseases.”

Two cases have been confirmed in Fulton County, but so far there have been no transmissions reported within the community. The cases in Fulton County were tied to overseas travel, specifically Italy.

The DeKalb County Board of Public Health is taking the lead on the local response. On March 3, the Health Board reaffirmed that there are no cases of coronavirus in DeKalb County at this time.

“The two cases identified in Fulton County are travel-related exposures, not community spread,” said DeKalb County District Health Director Elizabeth Ford said in a press release. “While I realize that everyone is greatly concerned about the rapid spread of the virus in several parts of the world, the actions that you would take to prevent the spread of any respiratory disease is the very same for COVID-19.”

Here’s the full announcement from the DeKalb County Board of Health:

DECATUR, Ga. – As Georgia’s first cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) have been confirmed, DeKalb’s top doctor wants to make it clear that public health officials are ready to respond, if and when the virus surfaces in DeKalb County.

“The two cases identified in Fulton County are travel-related exposures, not community spread,” said DeKalb County District Health Director S. Elizabeth Ford, M.D., M.B.A. “While I realize that everyone is greatly concerned about the rapid spread of the virus in several parts of the world, the actions that you would take to prevent the spread of any respiratory disease is the very same for COVID-19.”

The Fulton County cases, confirmed late Monday evening, live in the same household. One recently returned from Italy. Both have mild symptoms; they are isolated at home with other relatives to keep the illness from spreading.

COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 or individuals in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.

Best Practices

– Wash your hands often with soap and warm 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.

– Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

– If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, do not wear face masks. According to the CDC, 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. Regular surgical face masks are not effective in protecting against COVID-19.

If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.

For the updated information about COVID-19 log on to: dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html. Find answers to frequently asked questions at
cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html.

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