Health dept. continues advising best behaviors
The Ripley County Health Department continues to provide timely information and trustworthy advice regarding the novel coronavirus for members of the local community. Public information officer Dr. David Welsh encourages Ripley County residents to continue to practice all public health guidelines as business resumes around the state and nation.
“Be thinking about not only yourself, but others that you come across,” he says of spending more time in public. That means maintaining personal hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes with your elbow and not your hands, wearing a cloth mask and gloves, and maintaining at least six feet of distance between you and others at all times.
“Cloth masks can be helpful in many ways,” Dr. Welsh says. Masks primarily decrease transmission from the person wearing it to others around them. Thus, wearing a mask is a form of looking out for your neighbor, especially knowing that the virus is transmissible through asymptomatic individuals. Cloth masks and gloves are also easily washable. Add them to your regular laundry cycle and then reuse them when visiting public places where maintaining distance from others is difficult.
The health department has created a weekly video series of short, informational clips for the public, such as how to use a face mask. Visit their website at www.ripleyhealth.com or follow their page on Facebook to view the video series.
Dr. Welsh encourages businesses to contact the health department for guidance as they resume operations. “We are available to talk with them to go over the opening process,” he says of local employers, adding, “We are there for the community.”
As Indiana begins to reopen businesses, the state is setting up more testing sites and looking to centralize contact tracing to aide local health departments. Dr. Welsh notes that the additional testing facilities won’t change Ripley County’s current testing protocol, but will provide extra support statewide to identify more Hoosiers who are carrying the virus and make sure workers on the front lines have the ability to be tested quickly.
As for tracing, Dr. Welsh says, “We’ve been doing contact tracing from the get-go,” and the health department will continue to do so. People who test positive for COVID-19 should expect a text, email, and phone call from either local or state authorities who will talk with that person to determine with whom they have been in close contact. Doing so will help decrease unabated community transmission. Keeping a journal of your public outings, as reported in an earlier news article, may be helpful if you need to remember these details.
If you develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including a fever, cough, and shortness of breath, among others, the advice remains to self-quarantine and notify your primary care physician to get tested. If you are alerted that you have been in close contact with a positive case, you may also consider self-isolating until you can be tested. Persons in close contact with a positive case should definitely refrain from visiting people older than 65 and those with high-risk conditions.
Dr. Welsh acknowledges that these are stressful times for everyone. “It can be very hard on folks,” he says, as people continue to alter their routines, protect their health, and look after one another. The State of Indiana has created a website, bewellindiana.com, that is a general mental health resource center for all Hoosiers. It contains COVID-19 information, healthy lifestyle advice, and a variety of text messaging and phone lines for crisis intervention and related assistance. Dr. Welsh says, “We need to let folks know whether you are in healthcare or not, there are resources available to you.”