COVID-19 Q&A with RBC County Health Director

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RBC | Rio Blanco County Public Health Director Alice Harvey answered several of the many questions her department is receiving about the coronavirus pandemic and local actions during a live online meeting Monday hosted by the Herald Times. (See article for the video.)

If you think you’ve been exposed, what should you do?

If you know or think you’ve been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 it’s recommended that you self-isolate — stay home, away from others — for 14 days. Close contact is defined as being within less than six feet for 10 minutes or more. The average length of time from exposure to symptoms is six days, but shorter and longer times have been reported. Asymptomatic (no symptoms) individuals may also be contagious.

Residents, especially those who have traveled to areas where the virus is spreading, are encouraged to self-monitor and watch for symptoms.

“We’re stressing social isolation for everyone, to head it off,” Harvey said. “We’re trying to bring that curve down.”

Do I need to be tested?

If you have symptoms that indicate coronavirus, immediately self-isolate and call your local healthcare provider for guidance before heading to the hospital or clinic. If you are infected, you don’t want to share the virus by going out. The most common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Most people, even if they test positive, will not require hospitalization.

There is at this time no scientifically proven treatment, cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Most people can self-manage in the comfort of their homes.

Testing is not required to self-isolate. Once community spread (infection not related to travel or connection to a known infected individual) in Rio Blanco County is established, more resources for testing will become available.

What can we do to help?

It’s contrary to normal, but the best thing everyone can do right now is diligently practice social distancing and good hygiene. At this time the hospitals are stocked and ready. Community testing through both local hospitals is available for those with symptoms.

In the days and weeks to come, new testing options will become available and additional needs that can be met by volunteers will be announced. In the meantime, abide by the public health guidelines set forth by the federal, state and local governments.

Additional questions received by the Herald Times online include concerns about the Post Office and what it’s doing (we’re following up) and a question about whether someone who has had the virus and survived will then be immune. (still unknown).