By Leah Williams
As news spread about the contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the region, several local organizations canceled their spring events, and other places began putting up extra precautions.
Washington Health Department Administrator Elizabeth Lehde said that as of Monday morning there have not been any confirmed cases within the county. While the department is getting daily updates, Lehde said officials are stressing that the best safety precaution is to believe that the virus “is in the community.”
Matt Bierman, Washington County Emergency Management Administrator, said the purpose of the social restrictions is to keep the number of confirmed cases at a manageable level so that those who need the care are able to receive it.
“It’s not about us trying to put the fear in you,” Bierman said. “We are trying to keep the social aspect down and keep you apart so as to not to bother or harass. It’s that if we continue to spread at the rate it is going we are going to overwhelm the healthcare system.”
Bierman also said that while some with healthier immune systems may receive mild cases of the coronavirus, the fact that it is so contagious makes it more dangerous for those who are older or have weaker systems.
“And in Washington County, we have a lot in that population,” he said.
Lehde also said that because symptoms can range from mild to very severe, it is not often known when the virus has been spread.
What is known is that there are a lot of things up in the air.
“It’s new to humans so a lot of the precautions are put in place because we just don’t know for certain how this is going to affect us,” she said.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has been declared a national and state emergency, Bierman also encouraged business owners to keep track of any losses that have been incurred as a result of this health crisis in case there becomes an opportunity down the line for funds or small business loans may be released.
“Start keeping track now, just in case,” he said.
Several cancellations were announced this week amid the health concerns and the potential to spread the virus to at-risk populations.
The Washington County Senior Services announced due to the mounting concern about the coronavirus that the dine-in meals and activities at its Nashville and Okawville Senior Centers would be canceled until further notice. Seniors can order a meal for carry out only, and home delivered meals will continue as usual.
Other postponed events include the Volunteer of the Year Banquet, the Community Center of Nashville’s Chicken and Dumpling Dinner and the annual Taste of Hope benefits for Relay for Life.
For more information about how the coronavirus is impacting the community, log on to our website for updated information.