As global concern about coronavirus grows, a diverse set of key Tallahassee institutions are actively collaborating and cooperating to prepare and protect the community if the virus threatens the northwest Florida region. Providing simple access to the best advice from health care professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health is intended to arm people with knowledge to calmly take preventive action steps that can enhance the safety of individuals, families, schools, and businesses.
Even before there were reported cases of the virus in Florida, representative leaders of key institutions gathered at Tallahassee City Hall last week — on February 27 — to discuss the looming threat of coronavirus and how to collectively raise public awareness and spur proactive preparedness. Participants in the meeting included the City of Tallahassee, Leon County Government, Leon County Schools, FSU, FAMU, TCC, Capital Health Plan, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, Capital Regional Medical Center, the Florida Department of Health in Leon County, and the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.
Just as those organizations work seamlessly together to prepare and protect the community from the potential threat of an approaching hurricane, the same kind of collaboration is well underway to serve the public if the coronavirus becomes a reality in this region. For now, the leaders of these groups want to provide information to the public to keep calm, stay informed, and to take appropriate precautionary steps.
“The Governor said last week that the State of Florida is ready, and we want everyone to know that the Tallahassee community is also prepared,” said Mayor John Dailey. “We are actively monitoring the situation and are united in how we intend to prepare and protect the public – and to effectively meet this challenge with every necessary and appropriate resource.”
Among the common-sense tips for everyone to know is stay home from school or work if you’re sick – to protect yourself and others, according to Claudia Blackburn, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Leon County. She also advised the basic tips of frequent hand washing, sneezing or coughing into the fold of your arm or into a tissue that is properly discarded, and other highly recommended simple suggestions from the CDC and Florida DOH officials.
“Individually and collectively, our local institutions are prepared, and we want to assure the public that we are here to serve the entire community in facing this potential threat,” said Blackburn. “We recommend that everyone review the priority guidelines and updates from the CDC.”
The CDC recommends that individuals and families follow everyday preventive measures including:
- Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Sanitizers: If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
- Voluntary Home Isolation: Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to the COVID-19-related virus, but the symptoms can be similar.
- Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then be sure to throw it in the trash can.
- Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Flu Shots: Health experts recommend getting a flu shot to reduce the chances of getting the regular flu and weakening your immune system further.
“As with H1N1 swine flu, Ebola, and the Zika virus, County Emergency Management will coordinate with the Florida Department of Health to engage our many local and state agencies in preparedness and response,” said Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long. “As with past natural disasters, we stand ready to convene our area’s health experts to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna emphasized that students, parents, faculty, and staff should know that “our district makes the safety and well-being of all its overarching daily priority, particularly in the face of any new threat.”
“We have a separate plan in place to communicate with students, their families, and our staff,” said Hanna. “If your child isn’t feeling well, the best policy is to have them stay home until they’re better, for their sake and that of others.”
Sue Dick, President/CEO of the Tallahassee Chamber, also reported that it is poised to active and continued outreach to its members and the overall business community to be a reliable resource.
“The good health and safety of our labor force in every workplace in the community is of priority concern to the diverse businesses that feel that deep responsibility,” said Dick. “Working with all of the key stakeholders, we’re providing our business community with as much information as possible about how to minimize the risk of this threat.”
To keep up to date on the latest news and information on the coronavirus from the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO), visit:
- FDOH COVID-19 Information
- CDC General Information
- CDC Resources
- CDC Community Mitigation Guidance for Coronavirus
- WHO General Information
- WHO Video
- Water Quality & Health Council FAQ