BELL COUNTY, Texas — The Center for Disease Control said the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. is not a question of, "If," but a question of, "When". Representatives from Fort Hood, local school districts and Baylor Scott & White spoke about the virus and its impact.
Fort Hood Lt. Col. Steven Lamb, a III Corps Deputy Public Affairs Officer, addressed the topic of military troops who will return from South Korea. They are expected to return the first week of March.
"Current estimates are that the virus is present only in the southern region of South Korea, in the vicinity of Daegu. Third Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Soldiers operate under the direction of U.S. Forces Korea in the Northern region of South Korea at Camps Casey and Humphreys. All Center for Disease Control guidelines are being followed and the Soldiers stationed in South Korea are considered at very low risk for coronavirus based on the lack of symptoms and lack of known exposure," Lt. Col. Lamb said. "Medical teams in South Korea and at Fort Hood are screening and following established protocols in the pre-departure and post-departure phase of the returning flights from South Korea. However, the command teams are ensuring Soldiers understand not only the symptoms of the virus and how to seek help if necessary, but also that they follow basic mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of any illness."
Three school districts in Central Texas also spoke about how they are addressing the coronavirus in the statements below.
- "Killeen ISD has created a proactive plan for flu and flu-like symptoms with guidance from the CDC and Fort Hood, which includes monitoring the coronavirus outbreak. The district uses hospital-grade sanitizer to thoroughly clean our campuses with an emphasis on touch zones which include doorknobs, railings, backs of chairs, water fountains and desks. We are also supplying campuses with additional sanitizer wipes to regularly clean all technology devices including tablets, iPads, keyboards and monitors. It is our goal to keep families informed and ensure a safe learning environment is always maintained for our students," Chief Communications and Marketing Officer Taina Maya said.
- “The Temple Independent School District works closely with Bell County Public Health to monitor any developments related to conditions in the area. In conjunction with the Texas Department of State Health, the district has established guidelines and preventative measures to address the flu and other contagious illnesses. Our school nurses are trained to recognize and handle such situations," Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Eric Haugeberg said.
- "While COVID-19 may be new, working to keep our students and staff healthy by preventing the transmission of viruses in our schools is not. We regularly remind students and staff to cover their cough, wash their hands frequently and maintain personal space. Our teachers refer students who appear to be ill to their campus nurse, and our nurses use their expertise to evaluate and address students' medical needs. Additionally, our custodial staff uses a hospital-grade disinfectant and continuously cleans our buildings throughout the day supplementing that with targeted deep cleaning as needed.Similarly, as in the past, we will continue to work closely with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District to assess potential health concerns and how best to address them. It's also important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently states the risk of COVID-19 to the American public is low, and there are no reported cases in McLennan County at this time," Executive Director for Communications Josh Wucher said.
Baylor Scott & White has a plan in place in case of a pandemic hitting our area. The Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Dr. Karen Brust, said identification in coronavirus cases is critical. She asked for people to notify them if they have traveled to an area they could have picked up the virus. If a possible patient is identified they will isolate them and notify the appropriate people. Isolation would be keeping the patient in their room, using gowns, gloves and goggles for protection and manage the air in the room.
"I do think that it is inevitable that coronavirus will come. I think that the thing that sets us apart in terms of just being a part of the United States is that we have a tremendous public health infrastructure," Brust said.
Brust said we are far from epidemic or pandemic level for the virus. She said hopefully we will not get to that level, but there are plans in place if we do.
"For many years we've had pandemic plans in place for other viral illnesses like influenza. So we piggyback off those other plans for any sort of novel virus that may come our way," Brust said.
You can go to the Baylor Scott & White website to find out how to protect yourself from the coronavirus.
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