Be prepared: Health officials recommend Pittsburg County residents stay updated on COVID-19 situation

It’s the question Pittsburg County residents keep asking — are there any positive coronavirus cases or investigations into presumptive cases in the county?

“No,” Regional Health Department Director Juli Montgomery said Friday evening.

But Montgomery and District Nurse Manager Melissa Locke, both of the Pittsburg County Health Department, said the situation is fluid and could change like it has across the state. After 10 positive cases were reported statewide to start the week, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 49 coronavirus cases and one death as of Friday with none in Pittsburg County.

State officials acknowledged this week a dwindling number of testing kits might contribute to low case reports — but OSDH announced a partnership Friday that allowed 300 test specimens to be shipped immediately for testing and increased capacity for delivering results.

Montgomery said the Pittsburg County Health Department had 19 specimen collection kits as of Friday evening.

The local health officials recommended Pittsburg County residents look at the OSDH website (https://coronavirus.health.ok.gov/) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/) for reliable information before a potential case is identified in the area.

“There’s lot of resources there for all different agencies from longterm care facilities, businesses, and even individuals,” Locke said. “There’s a lot of resources there about what to do if you are sick, what to do for sick loved one at home.

“Now’s the time that they really need to be looking at that information and just preparing in case they have that situation,” Locke said.

Symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The CDC guidelines allow doctors to use their judgment in deciding whether to order testing of a patient.

Testing typically involve taking a swab to collect cells deep in the nasal cavity of a suspected sick patient.

Samples are sent to a lab to be tested and determine if the patient is infected with the virus. The process is similar to testing for the flu.

So what should someone do if they think they have coronavirus symptoms?

“The first thing they need to do is go home,” Montgomery said. “If you have symptoms, don’t be out in the public.”

Montgomery said anyone who thinks they are infected or have been in contact with someone who tested positive needs to call their care provider.

Health officials also recommended anyone who thinks they have symptoms go through a screening process.

“We are still dealing with a lot of seasonal influenza so depending on their provider’s instructions, they may want them to come in and screen for other potential pathogens,” Montgomery said. “But they definitely need to check with their provider first before they ask to be tested because there is a screening process and triage questions that need to be asked.”

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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