While it has been confirmed that there are no coronavirus cases in Washington, D.C. and immediate health risk is low, people are worried about whether authorities have been taking sufficient measures to keep the disease away.
The D.C. Health Department recently announced in a statement that they are watching the developments closely and working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer the latest guidance and recommendations for residents as soon as such information becomes available.
They are also working with other regional and federal partners to ensure that all necessary measures are in place.
Metro Sets in Motion Response Plan
In the meantime, Metro has started to implement its own course of action against the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The agency is monitoring employee sick days for any sudden increases in absenteeism, according to Dan Stessel, a spokesman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), who spoke to WAMU.
The first phase of WMATA’s plan includes increasing its inventory of cleaning supplies, rubber gloves, hospital-grade disinfectant and face masks, as well as keeping a list of experts to consult and where service adjustments can be made.
The WMATA staff is also conducting full-scale cleaning on rail cars twice a week now, instead of once.
What are Educational Institutions Doing?
Some schools in the DMV area have canceled field trips and visits to China and South Korea until June, while some others are working on response plans for a possible outbreak.
As for universities, American University, Georgetown University and the University of Maryland (UMD) have temporarily halted university-sponsored and university-related travel for students, faculty and staff to China and South Korea. Students currently attending these programs in Japan and Italy are being monitored.
Another action was taken by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which issued specific guidelines on the steps that can possibly be taken for employees in case they demonstrate symptoms of coronavirus at workplaces.
Is it Safe to Attend Public Events?
Events D.C,. the official convention and sports authority for the District, is closely following recommendations of the D.C. Health, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to the necessary extra steps to reduce the spread of any disease.
At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Events D.C. team stepped up sanitation, hygiene and food handling, frequently disinfecting most touched surfaces, such escalators, stair handrails and elevator buttons; placed “Cover Your Cough” signage throughout the facility and in all restrooms and educated its employees on how to recognize the symptoms of flu.
Along with all these precautions, people are asked to continue to follow the healthy practices recommended by experts.
What Are the Main Precautions You Should Take?
According to the CDC, everyday preventive actions that help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases include the actions below:
- 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your 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.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
You should keep in mind that people who have a weak immune system or a chronic disease have a higher risk of catching the virus, as is the case with the common cold and the flu.
There are currently 87 people diagnosed with coronavirus around the United States and two deaths were reported over the weekend. The global death toll, on the other hand, passed 3,000.