What does the Coronavirus mean for Marion County?

Everyone from around the Marion County to around the world is talking about COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, right now. While many think the hype surrounding it is ridiculous, others have valid fear and concerns.

“I think it is important for people to remain calm and get information. Panicking doesn’t help anything. And good hand washing and staying away from people if you are sick should be taken very seriously,” said Isabel Schmedemann, CEO of Herington Hospital.

Hillsboro citizens specifically grew concerned last night as rumors circulated that two Tabor studentes had been quarantined with the virus. This is not true and there are no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus at the moment at the college.

The college released an official statement this morning stating the following:

“Tabor College is monitoring the international coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak through credible sources such as the Centers for Disease Center and Prevention (CDC), the EPA, the USDA and the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE). Also, the College is cooperating with local healthcare professionals to assure that the campus is ready, should any cases be confirmed.

Tabor is encouraging the campus community to follow primary sanitary precautions to reduce the probability of contracting or spreading the virus, should they encounter someone who is contagious. These steps include frequent and thorough handwashing, avoiding individuals who have high temperatures, covering coughs and sneezes, not sharing hand towels and pillows, as well as reporting to campus resident life staff if they have a high fever, cough and/or trouble breathing. The College food service provider, Pioneer College Caterers, is assuring thorough cleaning and sanitary protocols in operational spaces around campus.

The College enrolls students from more than thirty states and fourteen of countries— and some of these areas have experienced confirmed cases of the virus. The College is being watchful and cautious in the days leading up to Spring Break (March 13-23), advising students, faculty and staff to curtail travel to higher risk areas and to take care to report any illness when returning to campus after the one-week break.

Tabor College takes the care of our students’ well-being very seriously and taking the advice of healthcare professionals.

All College-sponsored student activities and classes will continue as planned.

Questions… please contact Tabor at: studenthealth@tabor.edu or call 620-947-3121 to speak Don Ratzlaff, director of Communications.”

Herington Hospital, which is in neighboring Dickinson County and has a clinic in Hillsboro, is daily updating their website and Facebook page with information related to the virus. Here is some of the information from today’s update:

“There has been so much information on the news about the Coronavirus and between the media outlets and the CDC and KDHE, we in healthcare are on overload. I want to take a minute and share with our community that much of what is being put forth about the Coronavirus also relates to Influenza A and B so I want to remind all of us of the following:

  • Whether the flu or Coronavirus (COVID-!9) you can protect yourself by staying home when you are sick. Stay home if you are experiencing fever, cough or other signs of illness. Monitor your symptoms.
  • IF YOUR ARE SICK AND THINK YOU NEED MEDICAL CARE, CONSIDER CALLING YOUR PROVIDER. If after clinic hours, come to the emergency department. If you are having severe respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing or if you have a medical emergency call 911.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Distance yourself from others and limit or avoid contact with others if you are sick to help protect those who are not sick and those who may suffer from chronic diseases with lowered resistance to infection.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean surfaces, such as door knobs, keyboards, phones, tables and counters every day.

So much focus has been on the Coronavirus and there is much we are still learning about that virus. In the meantime we want to provide information and help you prevent the spread of whatever is making you sick.”

Schmedemann went on to add, “I don’t want our communities to lose sight of the fact that we are more at risk of catching Influenza A and B than we are of getting the Coronavirus. All of these above precautions are just good practice for this season of cold and flu anyway.”

We have reached out to the Marion County Health Department, St. Lukes Hospital and the Hillsboro Community Hospital and connected, but all three were dealing with pressing responsibilities and were tied up prior to our deadline. They are planning on contributing information for a longer piece in next week’s edition.

If you are uncertain of what to do and are not feeling well, please reach out to any of the places mentioned above or your health care provider and seek advice.

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