Is Benton County Prepared For Coronavirus To Hit Here?

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
CNN confirmed on the afternoon of March 2 that the novel coronavirus has caused 100 deaths in the U.S. Two weeks ago the news website reported that there had been over 1,775 deaths around the world, and on March 2 that number had increased to more than 3,000. Travel restrictions have been expanded and people are taking more precautions. The Surgeon General has stated that “We are prepared, no need to panic.” And, Warsaw Mayor Eddie Simons is advising us to stay calm.
“As of this morning (March 3) there are still no cases of coronavirus in Missouri,” said Mayor Simons. “If the coronavirus comes to Benton County, the City of Warsaw will work with the local health department, state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and take their advice for procedures to keep everyone safe.”
The Benton County Health Department reports that its medical staff has been in daily contact with CDC, and watches the latest teleconferences about the coronavirus. This virus has been around for some time, but everyone’s concern now is with the novel coronavirus – a new strain of the virus. If someone is reported to the Health Department as possibly having symptoms of novel coronavirus, then that someone is required to stay at home, be isolated, and report his or her temperature two times daily, for 14 days. If screening supports testing for the coronavirus, the testing would have to be done at a hospital and sent to a Missouri State lab for results. The Health Department also reported that if someone has only been exposed to the coronavirus but has not exhibited signs of sickness, then he/she will be quarantined, or separated from those who have not been exposed. In this case the exposed person may still go out of the home on errands, but must wear a mask for other people’s protection. 
Face masks are not necessarily the best precaution to prevent getting the coronavirus.  The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, has stated that people can increase their risk of getting the novel coronavirus if they wear a face mask and are not a health care provider. His quote on on March 2, was “Folks who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot and actually can increase the spread of coronavirus. We’re certainly seeing more spread in communities, but it’s important for folks to know that right now their risk as American citizens remains low.”
Face masks may also be hard to come by at this time. G&W Country Mart Manager, Kerry Wise said that there are no more face masks available for him to order for the store, and he doesn’t know if the hand sanitizers order he sent in will be filled. He is expecting it on March 4. 
“There have not been too many signs of preparedness for the coronavirus from our customers,” said Wise. “Although there was one person who came in to shop wearing a mask and winter gloves, even though the weather was warm. She appeared to be taking things carefully.”
Wise said that he had talked to his district manager recently about any steps he should be taking in light of the coronavirus. His manager said that it was a good idea to order extra water at this time, but other than that they needed to just wait.
“I thought that we might get more of a rush in the store,” said Wise. “But, then again most of our customers are elderly and are more likely to stay home.”
Boring Drugs still has hand sanitizers on hand, but face masks are back ordered. J&D Pharmacy is out of face masks, and as of March 2 only had a couple of hand sanitizers left on the shelves. At a J&D Pharmacy staff meeting early on March 2, the subject of the coronavirus was discussed and it was stressed that people should not get alarmed. A representative of the Pharmacy said that the staff is encouraging patients to use the drive thru window for their pharmacy business, if they are worried about being around too many other people.
Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare (GVMH) responded to some questions about the coronavirus and stated that its team follows protocol established by the CDC to ensure safety for its patients, staff and community members. GVMH is prepared for the arrival of patients with coronavirus, if that should happen, and it uses screening questions recommended by CDC.
The University Extension Office, received an email on February 28, from its University Health Engagement and Outreach office, stating that “During this time of uncertainty, it’s important to remember to stay calm, to remember that you are getting information from reliable sources, and to continue to practice good respiratory hygiene, such as:
-washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or using a hand sanitizer with 60%+ alcohol
-covering your face with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze or cough (& then throw away the tissue) 
-avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth 
-limiting contact with people who may be sick
-staying home if you’re feeling ill
-seeking medical attention for fever, cough or difficulty breathing”
Dr. Amie Breshears, County Engagement Specialist for MU Extension in Benton County, said that she was talking to another Extension staffer about the repercussions that the coronavirus could have. She said that some of the things we import from other countries that are greatly affected by this virus, such as farming equipment, could cause a negative impact on the economy.
Pettis County Health Department released a press release on March 2 regarding the coronavirus. Part of the press release made suggestions of things to do in case of pending isolation or quarantine at home, including making sure that you have the food, medicine, diapers, pet food, toilet paper and other supplies you would need. If not, have someone who would be able to go to the store for you drop off the supplies at your front door. Other suggestions can be found at