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‘Still a great deal we do not know’: Jefferson County Health Department officer talks COVID-19 concerns

By Staff | Mar 20, 2020

Dr. Terrence Reidy discusses the Jefferson County Health Department's recommendation for dealing with COVID-19 in Town Hall on March 10. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Dr. Terrence Reidy, the health officer for the Jefferson County Health Department, visited Town Hall on March 10, to share some advice about the new strain of the novel coronavirus with the Corporation of Shepherdstown’s mayor and town council.

According to Reidy, much can be learned about the virus by keeping up with the news, as long as it is from a “trustworthy and accurate” news outlet.

“Misinformation is a great danger in times of uncertainty,” Reidy said, mentioning social media can be used to spread misinformation, such as when false reports were spread over the past week about two secret confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. Mayor Jim Auxer later published a press release, denying these rumors.

“Some details of how coronavirus is spread are changing rapidly and our knowledge about this infection is increasing daily, but there is still a great deal we do not know,” Reidy said, mentioning the short time frame limits the amount of information available on the virus. “We have had decades to study different influenza strains and develop reliable tests to determine who is infected and who was infected.”

The 2019 novel coronavirus was dubbed nCOVID-19, or COVID-19, by the World Health Organization because it was first diagnosed in Wuhan, China in Dec. 2019. According to Reidy, China’s months-long battle with the virus has taught us one thing “this is a marathon.”

“We’ve got to continue living our lives,” Reidy said, mentioning he did not encourage stocking up on more supplies than an infected community member would need for a two-week quarantine. “People say to get two weeks of food and supplies, in case you need to quarantine at home.”

At the same time, Reidy recognized that the homeless and those at risk for contracting COVID-19 — those with low immunity, with medication conditions or who are over 60-years-old — might need assistance from their community.

“We have to develop strategies for people who do not have a home. The community needs to care for their own, because the government can’t,” Reidy said. “The people where you live, you need to get to know them and get their phone numbers. Figure out a way that you can help each other and communicate on the extent of the spread of the illness

“If you get sick and are coming down with the flu or fever, don’t walk into your doctor’s office, call your doctor or nurse practitioner about it,” Reidy said, before giving one final recommendation for people who think they may have COVID-19. “Consider wearing face masks, to prevent the spread of the illness.”

To keep track of the spread of COVID-19, Reidy encourages community members to visit www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6.

“This is a link to a tremendous tool for seeing the up-to-date status of the virus, including where the cases are and how many people have recovered, as well as the more-often quoted statistic of how many have died,” Reidy said.