26 from China Mainland Quarantined in Westchester to Monitor for Coronavirus

WPCNR HEALTH OBSERVATION. February 19, 2019:

The Westchester County Department of Health announced yesterday evening 26 persons just returned from the Chinese mainland are being quarantined in their homes to monitor them for any signs of developing symptoms of coronavirus, Commissioner of the Department of Health, Dr. Sherlita Ambler announced.

Caren Halbfinger, Public Affairs Director for the Department of Health answered WPCNR’s questions about how the quarantine is being administered

1.     Are persons in the quarantined group confined to the house or residence?  And cannot leave?

The individuals who are quarantined must stay away from others – so that means they have to stay where they are, which in most cases is indoors at their own home.  The environment is assessed to determine if it is safe to allow them outside.

2. Who checks them and how often or are they self-reporting?

Health department nurses are in touch with them via smart phone video-conferencing several times each day. The Westchester County Health Department is following CDC and New York State Department of Health protocols. The Health Department can call them and these travelers can call the Health Department at any time.

Should they become ill or need to be transported Public Safety and Emergency Services would oversee that and make sure the right equipment is being used.

3. If they are allowed to leave, do they wear ankle bracelets? No – they are not allowed to leave.

4. If they are not allowed to leave, is the county supplying food, essentials? The County Health Department is working with them to ensure they have whatever they need.

5. Are they allowed visitors? No.

6. Is it correct that there are no confirmed coronaviruses infected persons at this time? Wednesday? Correct – none.

7. If more travelers possibly exposed to coronavirus arrive in greater numbers where will the county quarrantine them?

Each individual’s situation will be assessed to determine whether quarantine is appropriate and then, if it is, to determine the best setting.

To date, there have been no cases of coronavirus reported in Westchester County

These are the facts the Department of Health released to WPCNR this morning:

  • Westchester has travelers coming back to the county from areas of the world where COVID-19 cases have occurred
  • The Westchester County Health Department is currently monitoring is 26 individuals
  • These people are all quarantined – this is a voluntary quarantine most are in their homes
    • Isolation is when you are sick
    • Quarantine is when you are exposed to illness
  • *THERE IS NO REASON TO BE ALARMED* THERE is NO THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY*
  • Westchester County Health Department is following CDC and New York State Department of Health protocol
  • The Westchester County Health Department, with County Emergency Services, and County Public Safety are assisting ALL of these people
  • The County Health Department is making sure these people have food and medication – whatever they need during the time of quarantine
  • Health has the ability to video conference with all of them – using smart phones
  • Health is in constant communication with these people – they can call the Department of Health at any time
  • Should they become ill or need to be transported Public Safety and Emergency Services would oversee that and make sure the right equipment is being used
    • The Department of Emergency Services has sent correspondence to all of our Fire and EMS agencies with the latest guidance from the NYS Health Department and CDC on response to potential novel coronavirus patients. 
      • Local first response agencies provide training and personal protective equipment to their own personnel.  
      • The Department of Emergency Services stands ready to provide any supplemental training, supplies and guidance as may be needed to support preparations in partnership with the County Health Department.   
      • A professional EMS has been contracted for backup – if needed

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STAY SAFE:

  • Do what you would do to protect yourself from the flu
  • Wash hands – stay away from sick people who are coughing or sneezing
  • Clean with bleach – no green products
  • Cover your mouth when you couch or sneeze
  • The US Government is telling people not to go to China
  • Get your flu shot

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