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Photo by Wendy Davis

Dee Schippert and Vonda Pruitt from the ICPHD update the county board health committee Tuesday morning.

The Iroquois County Public Health Department has had first hand experience going through the coronavirus investigation last month.

An area individual had flown into O’Hare from China, not Wuhan, and had to go through the required investigation, said ICPHD Administrator Dee Schippert. This person under investigation (PUI) cooperated and was quarantined at home for 14 days — checked on twice a day by public health officials. The person remained symptom free and was released last week. “It was not a case of coronavirus but it was an investigation,” she said.

She noted those who are quarantined could potentially have been exposed to that illness. “You isolate the ill.”

This is the job of the public health department, she said. It works behind the scenes to help stop the spread to disease. Schippert gave this information at the county board health committee meeting Tuesday morning.

It gathers information, not to be invasive, and it doesn’t release private information. “People didn’t know we were investigating someone for 14 days. (The health department) is working behind the scenes.” She assured that when the public needs to know something for their safety, the health department has several means of doing so.

The coronavirus is just the current issue. There’s been worldwide spread thus making it a pandemic. She said no mass vaccination will be in the near future; it’s at least a year away from a vaccine.

The numbers are a little skewed in regards to the number of people who have been infected with the coronavirus, as “You can be infected with the coronavirus and not get ill. There are people who didn’t seek medical attention and it wasn’t diagnosed,” she said. It’s said that only three percent of cases are “severe” and those people often have underlying medical conditions. She said, so far, the numbers show that children aren’t at the most risk.

This strand of coronavirus had been found in animal. She said it’s found in bats; in China people eat bats. This is the first time for this particular coronavirus to spread from an animal to a human and then on to more humans. She said it’s been advised that those infected with the coronavirus should stay away from their pets.

She said coronavirus is a concern, but the health department still remains concerned about the seasonal flus, Schippert said. There are still deaths from the seasonal flu. Coronavirus has a lot of the similar symptoms as the flu: fever, cough, congestion, body aches, etc. “It can be confused with a lot of things.”

Iroquois County has worked on a plan. Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Eric Ceci spoke at the same meeting as Schippert.

“The best way is to prevent a coronavirus outbreak,” he said. It’s stressed that people need to wash their hands and if they’re feeling ill, stay home.

Social distancing is important.

The CDC gives guidelines to employees to keep a healthier workspace. “It costs a lot less (having one employee off) than having more,” said Schippert.

She said people need to remember, even those who are symptom free can spread the virus, and those who aren’t showing symptoms yet can also spread the virus. People who are ill should wear masks to keep from contaminating others.

The best disinfectant, Schippert reminded people, is still household bleach: one part bleach to 10 parts water in a spray bottle, sprayed and let air dry.

Hand washing is very important. It’s advised people need to wash their hands, with soap and hot water is better, for 20 seconds.

“Common, everyday prevention methods will go far,” said Schippert.