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Cole County health officials preparing for COVID-19

The Cole County Health Department is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services in Missouri as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be ready for COVID-19.

"We have shared many calls and receive a lot of our guidelines from them," said Chezney Schulte, the Cole County Health Department communicable disease coordinator.

While there are still zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 also known as the coronavirus in Missouri, officials are still skeptical the virus will miss the state.

"I'm concerned that it's just not here yet but its going to be here," said Sam Bushman the Cole County presiding commissioner.

"It'll be kind of the same as what we did with Ebola," Bushman said. "I think we've had a suspect case here and we just quarantined them in their homes."

Officials from the CDC say they do expect more cases and the degree of risk has potential to change quickly.

Schulte says the health department is working with local fire and police departments so Cole County officials will be prepared.

"Regardless of if there is a coronavirus, people are always preparing for things in the area, that way if we are talking about regular preparedness or COVID-19 we can gear those measures toward COVID-19 so they don't have to be changed much," Schulte said.

If someone does come down with the virus in the county, hospitals are equipped to keep the individual isolated and the community safe.

"As far as quarantine, if they are symptomatic and needing hospital care, our hospitals are equipped with negative pressure rooms, air born isolation rooms," Schulte said. "Those people if requiring hospital care could certainly stay at our hospitals."

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus spread by coughs and sneezes so doctors recommend washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Schulte says chances are slim the virus hits the county very hard.

"The Cole County risk and even the Missouri risk is very low," Schulte said.

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto started working with ABC 17 News in June after graduating from California State University-Channel Islands with a degree in organizational communication. He reports weekday evenings and weekend mornings.

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