Philly is ready to take on the coronavirus

The Department of Public Health recommends that schools prepare for the possibility of high rates of illness among students and staff.
MELISSA MITMAN

On Friday, Philadelphia officials shared their plan on combatting the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The city wants to assure residents that they are already actively planning with partners to make sure the city’s response is timely and appropriate.

Officials from the Managing Director’s Office, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Office of Emergency Management, SEPTA and the Philadelphia International Airport shared updates and how they are preparing to protect the public.

As of Sunday morning, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19; however, there is one person in Philly under investigation for COVID-19. Officials did not provide details on the person being investigated, a release states.

“We are fortunate that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus here in Philadelphia as of right now,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a release.

Kenney added, “We’re monitoring the situation with our state, regional, and local partners and receiving and distributing CDC guidance. We regularly work with our hospital and health care community to prepare for this type of situation, so we’re confident that—if we get a case—our response will be ready and appropriate.”

Even though Philadelphia does not have any confirmed cases, Pennsylvania now has six cases of COVID-19. Inquirer.com reports that four cases are in Montgomery County, one in Wayne County and one in Delaware County.

The Health Department has been tracking and tracing people since January to make sure that anyone who does test positive are limited in their ability to spread the disease.

Philly has also been working with the healthcare community, organizations and partners to help them prepare for COVID-19. They are making sure officials have the latest updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the City of Philadelphia about the virus.

Dr. Thomas Farley, Health Commissioner, said in a release that, “If we can quickly identify cases of the coronavirus and effectively isolate those who are sick with it, we can slow the spread of the disease. We encourage anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 coronavirus, either from a person who is already infected with it or by traveling to an area where it’s spreading, and has a fever or a dry cough to contact your doctor about getting tested. If you haven’t traveled or been around someone who has COVID-19 coronavirus but have these symptoms, you should stay away from other people to avoid spreading whatever illness you might have.”

Another release provided details information provided to schools since children are often at a higher risk. Here’s what Philly officials sent to schools:

In Philadelphia, the Department of Public Health recommends the following to slow the spread of infection:

  • Advise students and staff to practice behaviors that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, especially including hand washing, covering coughs and remaining at home when ill.
  • Regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces in classrooms and common areas.
  • Provide access to handwashing supplies, such as sinks supplied with soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations.

In addition, the Department of Public Health recommends that schools prepare for the possibility of high rates of illness among students and staff in the future:

  • Develop plans on how essential operations could be maintained if there were a period of weeks with high levels of absenteeism among students and staff.
  • Establish plans to provide some form of education at home for students who cannot attend school.

Officials say that if the illness becomes established in Philly, schools can be closed down. However, at this time, children seem to be at a lower risk for the illness, according to a release.

Schools are unlikely to close, but it is possible. School closure can occur if children become a strong contender for how it spreads. A release reports, this will only happen if, “school closure would have a substantial benefit in protecting residents.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that they have been over 105,000 cases of COVID-19 around the world. There have been 213 confirmed cases of the virus within the United States and its territories. As of Sunday morning, WHO reports that the United States has had 11 deaths from the virus.

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