Juneau officials urge prevention in fight against virus

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Hugs and shaking hands are a no-no and social distance is recommended.

    Since the Coronavirus is transmitted by droplets from coughs or sneezes, health officials recommend social spacing of six-feet when your interact with another person. 

    These tips came out at a special Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting dedicated to the COVID-19.

    Since these droplets can land on door knobs and surfaces, other tips are needed.

    Wash hands for 20 seconds, don't touch your face, keep surface areas cleaned like door knobs and counters, and stay home if you have a fever or other symptoms, are other tips from health experts.   Work from home if possible.

    Call the hospital or your doctor ahead of time and discuss your symptoms.  This will allow your physician to recommend a course of treatment or even a test for the virus.

    Right now Juneau does not have the ability to analyze the test.  They collect samples here and send them to two state labs.  They get results on the same day.  The state is working with private labs to ramp up the response to get more tests done quicker.   The state is also working with the Centers for Disease Control to get more tests.  They have about 150 test kits today.

    Public Health Nurse Supervisor Sarah Hargraves said the majority of cases would include mild to moderate symptoms.  The high risk groups are the elderly and those with prior respiratory problems.

    She recommends Juneau residents get a flu shot as it will strengthen your immune system to fight off illness.  Other advice was stock up on supplies and get prescriptions filled, especially for elderly residents.

    Bartlett Hospital CEO Chuck Bill said one person didn't call ahead with flu like symptoms last week.  That led to a test for the virus and taking two nurses out of commission for a day.  The test came back negative.  He said call ahead to let the hospital get prepared.  He noted they have been practicing and holding drills for things like this for many years.

    "We hope its another enhanced drill.  The reality is we can handle this to a point," he added.

    Assembly Member Greg Smith questioned whether the state is testing enough people for the virus.

    The state has hired five public health nurses to try and help the system.

    Residents can call 211 to get more information.

    The Assembly asked pages of questions submitted by the public.  They ranged from the cleaning of Capital Transit buses, whether schools and public facilities will be closed and what is being done to keep city employees safe.



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