By Diane Lee, Public Information Officer, Garrett County Health Department
The first two local cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Garrett County, according to the Garrett County Health Department and Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC).
Both persons who tested positive are women over 60 who traveled within the U.S. to areas known to have COVID-19 cases. The two women have had contact with each other. The patients began self-isolating at home as soon as they were tested and have not needed hospitalization.
Both cases were tested at GRMC and when they were notified of the positive test result, GRMC immediately contacted the Garrett County Health Department, as per state reporting protocol.
“Garrett County has been preparing for the possibility of a case of COVID-19 since it was first reported in the United States,” said Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens. “The Health Department is coordinating our response efforts and will continue to work to reduce the spread of infection and protect the health of all people in Garrett County.”
Dr. Jennifer Corder, Garrett County’s Deputy Health Officer, agreed. “This news confirms that rural Garrett County is indeed part of the wider world, and COVID-19 will impact us to some degree. The most important thing the public can do is to follow the CDC guidance, which includes the standard hygiene practices we recommend to prevent the spread of flu and other viruses. In addition, it is critical to minimize potential spread by maintaining social distance between people. Most importantly, we must protect our precious healthcare providers including hospital-based workers from unnecessary potential exposure. Stay at home, especially if you are mildly ill, and speak to your provider by telephone.”
“GRMC will continue to work toward keeping our community healthy and safe as this health crisis evolves,” said Mark Boucot, GRMC’s President & CEO. “We are coordinating efforts with the Health Department and the County’s Emergency Management team, and we will continue to update the community as things develop. We want the public to remember that most COVID-19 patients can self-quarantine and recover at home with the help of their physician. If you are exhibiting symptoms or have been exposed to someone diagnosed with the virus, contact your doctor. Your physician will know what steps to take and will advise accordingly.”
While there are only two confirmed cases of the virus locally, we know more cases will follow. Health leaders are asking people to take the illness seriously and to limit unnecessary social exposure by staying home, washing your hands, remaining home if you are mildly sick, and following the CDC’s guidance.
In response to the positive test outcome, the Garrett County Health Department is gathering information on the tested individuals’ contacts in order to encourage home quarantine/isolation for those who may have been exposed.
Residents should continue to stay at home as much as possible and practice every day, preventative actions such as:• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• If you are sick, stay home and call your provider for medical guidance.
For those at higher risk, it is especially important to take actions to reduce risk of exposure. According to the CDC, higher risk people are older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like lung, heart, or kidney disease.
These groups are advised to take additional precautions:
• It is especially important to stay at home as much as possible.
• Encourage others to go out for you if you need something such as medication or groceries.
• Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies.
Patients with COVID-19 have experienced mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Call your provider if you develop symptoms and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently been in high exposure areas.
Information and updates about COVID-19 in Garrett County and around the world are available at garretthealth.org. Residents can also call the Health Department COVID-19 Hotline at 301-334-7698.
Please call 911 only for medical emergencies, not for coronavirus information or questions.