Keeping a watchful eye

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 5:30pm

The Rhode Island Department of Health issued a lengthy statement on Monday, Feb. 24, detailing efforts the state is making in terms of responding to the possible appearance of coronavirus in the state. The Director of Security at Interstate Navigation and co-director of the town’s Emergency Management Agency, Bill McCombe, also said the ferry company was monitoring the situation. (The flu remains much more widespread in the U.S.)

“The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is continuing to take extensive preparedness measures locally. These include coordinating closely with other state agencies, community organizations, healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, schools, and colleges and universities, among numerous other partners as a part of readiness planning and to provide education, guidance, and support,” the statement read.

The report also said “there have not been any confirmed cases in Rhode Island,” but added that “it is possible that Rhode Island could have a case in the near future.”

McCombe told The Block Island Times that “we are in consistent communication with the state Department of Health and the Medical Center to monitor the situation.” McCombe said there “were no other public actions being taken at this time, but the town and Interstate receive regular updates.”

Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, was quoted in the DOH report as saying “the risk level for Rhode Islanders right now remains low. However, this is an evolving situation. For that reason, we have been taking extensive, comprehensive preparedness steps for several weeks and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

The report stated that the agency is putting into place a process “to ensure that anyone who has been in China in the previous 14 days is doing self-monitoring for symptoms for 14 days” and to avoid school, work, and public places. After the 14 day period passes, the DOH stated, “there is no longer a health concern about that person getting sick or spreading the disease.” (The monitoring started Feb. 3.)

The Centers for Disease Control, the DOH noted, is not recommending that Americans wear facemasks to avoid the disease, and should do so only on the recommendation of a health care provider.

“Rhode Islanders are reminded to take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses,” the report stated.

These include:

Getting a flu shot and encourage the people around you to do the same.

Washing hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

Coughing or sneezing into the elbow. Flu is spread through coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes to prevent others from getting sick.

Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.

Getting plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.

Keeping surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.

More information about coronavirus is available at