If you’ve been following state and national news, you can’t miss the focus on COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, a disease that’s spreading rapidly across Arizona, the U.S., and worldwide.

Local public health officials assure Gila County residents that they continue to monitor COVID-19; providing updates to community leaders and health care partners.

“The preparation and planning we’ve been doing for flu-borne, and new emerging diseases in general will prepare us well to respond to COVID-19 cases too,” said Joshua Beck, manager of Gila County’s COVID-19 response team.

“Gila County has focused much attention on pandemic planning and preparedness over the past five years; this means that response agencies across Gila County are skilled in coordinating efforts to protect our communities from the threat of diseases like COVID-19,” he continued.

“The only way we get through any infectious disease is by working together — keep our family members home when they are sick, stay home from work when we are sick, cover our coughs and keep our hands washed. Sounds simple enough, but as a community, these small actions can make all the difference. While we have had no cases of COVID-19 in Gila County, the case counts are expected to continue rising and we expect to see additional cases in Arizona and quite possibly Gila County,” Beck added.

Health officials reiterated that while most illnesses from COVID-19 have been fairly mild, they urge residents to take this outbreak and the following preventive measures, seriously:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

People at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness include: older adults, with risk increasing by age; persons of all ages who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.

It’s important that people who are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness take special precautions to reduce their risk of getting sick, and that the people around them take action to help protect those who are most vulnerable.

Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus and consist of fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Those considered most at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to an area where COVID-19 is spreading or individuals in close contact with a person under investigation for COVID-19. If you recently traveled to an area where COVID-19 is spreading and have developed fever with cough or shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel or have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, you may need to be seen at your local hospital emergency room/urgent care center. Please call the emergency room/urgent care center to get instructions before going in.

More information

Follow Gila County Health & Emergency Management on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gilacohealthem/ for updates from official sources; like and follow the Gila County Sheriff’s Office page, too — and sign up for localized emergency alerts through Everbridge. Sign up for your choice of emergency alerts via links posted at Gila County Health & Emergency Management on Facebook, or online at http://www.readygila.com/

STAR VALLEY

The Star Valley Town Hall, 3675 E. Highway 260, suspended walk-in service Wednesday, March 18 as a precaution to the prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses.

Town staff will be at the office and available to answer questions and address concerns by phone, 928-472-7752.

Letters will be sent to customers of the Star Valley Water Department with payment options while the town hall is closed.

The Star Valley Town Council made the decision to close the office at its March 17 meeting.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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