Dear Residents of Hodgeman County:

The coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency by President Trump as of Friday March 13th, 2020. This particular strain of coronavirus, COVID-19, is of concern because it is the first time that this strain has circulated in the human population; therefore, we do not have innate antibodies to fight this strain. The mortality rate of COVID-19 is higher than Influenza.

What you can do to protect yourself and others:

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, particularly after being in a public place or after coughing or sneezing
• Stay home if you are sick
• Clean surfaces with a household disinfectant
• Avoid contact with people who are sick
• Wear a mask if you are sick or if caring for others who are sick

Symptoms of coronavirus include: fever and signs of respiratory illness such as shortness of breath and cough. The incubation period of coronavirus is longer than most viruses, and though on average seems to be 5 days it could take as long as almost 14 days for someone to become infected. Coronavirus is spread by contact with contaminated surfaces and droplets that another person coughs or sneezes. People who are at risk of becoming infected with coronavirus are those who have had within the last 14 days either: 1) close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who is infected with the coronavirus and/or

2) have traveled to a level 3 travel advisory area such as: China, South Korea, Japan, Italy or Iran.

As of March 15th, the KDHE is recommending people to home isolate for 14 days who meet certain criteria including returning from: international travel, travel to states (such as Washington, California or New York) or counties (such as Summit, Eagle, Gunnison or Pitkin counties in Colorado) with widespread transmission or travel on a cruise ship. Also, people who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 are recommended by the KDHE to self isolate for 14 days. More details may be found on this at the KDHE website.

If you believe that you may be at risk for coronavirus, please call ahead to your healthcare provider prior to seeking care. Currently, healthcare facilities in Kansas have coordinated with the state lab to provide testing for those who meet criteria. Although in children symptoms usually resemble a mild upper respiratory tract infection, children can shed the virus for long periods of time. People over the age of 60 as well as persons who are immunocompromised are suffering the most morbidity from this virus.

Since this is a novel viral infection, there are no medications to treat this infection. When patients are sick with this virus, their care is supportive. Antibiotics, which are medicines used to treat bacterial infections, are not effective. Steroids have the risk of weakening the immune system which can make infection worse. Also, antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu which is used for Influenza A and B, have not been effective against the coronavirus. This is a constantly evolving situation. Our strategy is to limit transmission within our state. Hodgeman County schools is currently extending Spring Break. The CDC recommends either canceling or postponing events involving 50 or more people for the next 8 weeks.

The two most reliable sources of information on COVID-19 are the Kansas Department
of Health and Education (KDHE) and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). The KDHE
COVID-19 Resource Center is posting content updates continually.
The CDC and KDHE websites are:

I appreciate all the hard work that Hodgeman County Health Center and the Hodgeman County Health Department are doing to prepare as this pandemic unfolds.

Kristie Clark MD
Hodgeman County Health Officer

Attention: Health Advisory on Coronavirus