By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – If you’re looking for masks and hand sanitizer to minimize the chances of contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19), you’ll have to look elsewhere – Church & Scott is out.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said David Adsit, co-owner and pharmacist. “As soon as the news broke, people started buying them up, and we can’t get any more.”
Though he had plenty of hand sanitizer in stock, by Monday afternoon, March 2, after the news broke that two people in Washington had died and the first case was reported in New York, he was sold out.
A second New York case, in Westchester County, was reported on Tuesday, March 3.
COVID-19 is a respiratory tract virus from a “well-known family” of viruses, according to Dr. Charles Hyman, senior attending physician, infectious diseases at Bassett Hospital. It is believed to have originated in bats before evolving to be contagious to humans.
Symptoms include a cough and fever, with some experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms. “People over 60 or who have underlying health issues are at the biggest risk of complications,” said Hyman. “And symptoms can range from mild to severe.”
The good news is that the mortality rate is only 1.4 percent, according to a paper published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, which studied 1,000 patients with the clinical characteristics of COVID-19.
“Prevention is still evolving, but the Centers for Disease Control recommends you take the usual measures to prevent viral respiratory infections,” he said. “Wash your hands frequently, avoid being in contact with people who are sick, but we know that’s all easier said than done.”
The difficulty, he said, is that the symptoms are very similar to the flu, and testing is not yet available unless the state orders it. Testing kits should be available to hospitals within the next few weeks.
“Unless you have a high fever, an unremitting cough or shortness of breath, you should just contact your care provider by phone,” he said. “But 95 percent of the cases we are likely to see will be extremely mild.”
Bassett has mobilized a team of infection prevention specialists to be ready if a case is identified in Otsego County. “We’re using the CDC paradigm of Identify, Isolate and Test,” he said. “We’re trying to identify what a person of interest might be and where they can be isolated if they do
present with severe symptoms.”
Oneonta High School is also taking precautions; in a letter sent to parents last week, Superintendent Thomas Brindley outlined the school’s stance on the virus.
“Please know that we, in any health-related case, work closely with the Otsego County Department of Health, (which is) working closely with the state Department of Health as well as the Centers for Disease Control relative to this illness,” Brindley wrote.
He recommended students who are feeling ill to stay home until they are fever-free for 24 hours, wash their hands frequently and disinfect most-used objects, including phones.