3-20-2020 – Employers briefed on COVID-19 protocol

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by admin


March 20, 2020



By Garrett Stell

Mar 19, 2020 2:57 PM


Enforcing social distancing and calling ahead with doctors are the best methods for slowing the spread of coronavirus, local health officials told Caldwell County business and community leaders in a conference call Thursday.


There were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Caldwell County to date – statewide the number was approaching 100 – but community leaders need to prepare for someone testing positive, said Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


Emergency Services Director Dino DiBernardi, Public Health Director Anna Martin and Laura Easton, the president of Caldwell UNC Health Care, joined Murray for a virtual meeting to brief local employers on the ways that they can help slow down the spread of the virus.


DiBernardi said that the virus more than likely already is in the community.


“Our key takeaway for all employers, employees and honestly the health care community as a whole is to prevent the mass spread of this,” he said. “We have to eliminate the mass surge, we have to eliminate that strain on the medical community that overwhelms us. The way we do that … is with the social distancing, with disinfecting and using common sense.”


He said that what differentiates COVID-19 from dangerous conditions like heart disease and diabetes is the sudden flooding of the health care system.


“The same thing happens every year with the flu: Hospitals get inundated,” he said. “The challenge here, though, is that there is no fallback.”


Martin said that one way to help health care workers is to call ahead to medical providers before going to them. COVID-19 is an upper respiratory disease with symptoms such as coughing and fever, and she encouraged anyone experiencing those symptoms to seek medical attention, but always call first.


“Our message is: If you need to go to the doctor, call ahead so we can take necessary precautions before you get there,” Martin said.


Once people are able to make contact with a care provider, the doctors there will assess their symptoms and determine the next step.


With some symptoms easily confused with signs of a common cold or allergies, Easton said to watch for fever a sign of a potential COVID-19 infection.


Caldwell Memorial Hospital has set up a drive-through diagnostic respiratory center, but people will be sent there only after they have been screened by health care professionals in order to prevent overwhelming the system, Easton said.


“We are seeking to have people come to that diagnostic testing center through their primary physicians or through urgent care,” she said. “If your employees are showing respiratory symptoms, they should call their primary physician, or call a Caldwell Urgent Care facility, and they will direct them appropriately to the resp diagnostic center at the right time.”

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