Frederick County is gearing up for the expected spread of the dreaded coronavirus into Maryland — and hoping and praying that it will never happen or at least be milder than predicted.

The schools, the hospital, and the county and city governments are all trying to take every necessary step to prepare.

So far, no one in Maryland has tested positive for the virus, but it is spreading relentlessly across the globe and the country. The general expectation is that it is inevitable it will strike our state.

Every day the headlines warn of the coming pandemic, and people are frightened to the point of panic. Have you tried to buy hand sanitizer in the last week? Good luck finding it anywhere. The financial markets are roiled. Food and water are being stockpiled in many basements by people worried that they might be forced to hole up in their homes for weeks.

At times like this, it is comforting and reassuring when local officials are working hard to get ready in case bad things happen.

Frederick County Public Schools knows that the risk of contracting the illness seems to be low for children and young people in general, but they are taking necessary steps, and not taking any chances.

“All school systems have a plan for dealing with a pandemic. The good news is right now the coronavirus is not at a crisis level and basically what the CDC said is start getting ready, make sure you’re prepared, start having the conversations,” Superintendent Terry Alban told the Board of Education recently.

Jenifer Waters, health services specialist for FCPS, noted that many steps important for reducing transmission of the coronavirus are similar to those to prevent spreading the flu. Since this time of year normally sees an increase in sick students due to the flu, health rooms are already stocked with necessary materials and resources, she said.

Prevention of the spread of the flu virus is the top priority for schools right now. While the coronavirus is getting all the attention, the state has already seen more than 33,000 cases of the flu this season, and 45 people have died, of which five were children.

Health room staff have already been trained on how to respond to students or other school staff who may exhibit symptoms of coronavirus, Waters said. Schools are staffed with public health registered nurses who work for the county Health Department.

The practical measures are the same ones recommended for avoiding the flu. Students are being reminded to wash their hands often and cough or sneeze into their elbow if tissues are not readily available. Frequently touched objects and surfaces are also being disinfected often.

If the situation became dire, officials indicated, schools might be closed, but no guidelines for when to take that action have been issued by the state or federal governments.

“The situation and guidance are evolving rapidly,” Waters said.

Both Frederick Health Hospital and the county Health Department have reported that they are ready to respond as well.

If a person with coronavirus symptoms shows up at Frederick Health Hospital, the staff can place the person in isolation. The hospital has six negative-pressure isolation rooms in the emergency department, and 12 more throughout the hospital, an official said.

The hospital was an evaluation hospital in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak, and it developed protocols to use to take care of a patient in isolation then.

Our local health care workers are on top of this issue, and are well-trained and well-prepared. We hope the worst will never happen, but thankfully our medical first responders seem to have a handle on the steps they would take to meet any challenge.

(23) comments

Kelpfarming

Dreaded Coronoavirus? What, did a Democrat write this. It has a RECOVERY rate of 97%. BETTER than your ordinary yearly flu. Democrats are sadly trying anything to create fear. . So sad. So sad.

The Grape of Wrath

Your ordinary yearly flue killed about 50 million in 1918.

bosco

How many people got the flu vaccine in 1918?

Dwasserba

There is no immunity or vaccine for this. Its effects are comparable to the Spanish flu, which effects we know are remembered as...oh right, no big deal.

Kelpfarming

nYoure right...over 100 years of western medicine hasnt changed, right. What a joke

DickD

https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/blog/vaccine-development-spanish-flu"....     in the United States and Europe were confidently devising vaccines and immunizing hundreds of thousands of people in what amounted to a medical experiment on the grandest scale." "In 1918 the US population was 103.2 million. During the three waves of the Spanish Influenza pandemic between spring 1918 and spring 1919, about 200 of every 1000 people contracted influenza (about 20.6 million). Between 0.8% (164,800) and 3.1% (638,000) of those infected died from influenza or pneumonia secondary to it.""Certainly none of the vaccines described above prevented viral influenza infection – we know now that influenza is caused by a virus, and none of the vaccines protected against it. But were any of them protective against the bacterial infections that developed secondary to influenza? Vaccinologist Stanley A. Plotkin, MD, thinks they were not. He told us, “The bacterial vaccines developed for Spanish influenza were probably ineffective because at the time it was not known that pneumococcal bacteria come in many, many serotypes and that of the bacterial group they called B. influenzae, only one type is a major pathogen.” In other words, the vaccine developers had little ability to identify, isolate, and produce all the potential disease-causing strains of bacteria circulating at the time. Indeed, today’s pneumococcal vaccine for children protects against 13 serotypes of that bacteria, and the vaccine for adults protects against 23 serotypes."

threecents

Obviously the 1918 flu was not your ordinary yearly flu. I read that people would often die the first day they showed symptoms, which is wild. Also, they think a large percentage were co-infected with a bacteria that caused pneumonia, and it may have been the combination of the bacteria and that particular flu virus that led to that perfect storm.

Kelpfarming

This is 1918? Bw ah aha ha. I love how the godless suddenly lose faith in their science. Wow.

Greg F

I have a hunch, like Agent Orange does in the Oval Office, that Darwin will take care of the morons out there who somehow think they're invincible. Right Mr. Invincibility? Go farm your Kelp and maybe that will cure you. Good luck.

threecents

Kelp ???

Greg F

Spanish flu (not flue) started out a lot like this...calmed down and then came roaring back killing millions. There are no vaccines, no cures, no Tamiflu that may help and we have a nitwit in the Oval Office that says not to worry about it and has a hunch it will all be ok.

threecents

Except that the flu recovery rate is over 99.9%.

threecents

In case you are thinking that is just a tiny difference, it is the difference of less than 1 death per 1000 cases vs. 30 deaths per 1000 cases.

Kelpfarming

Yeh, and in a nation of over a billion, a few thousand is NOTHING. Why are you trying to sew fear> You realise that only fuels the close the borders mayehm dont you.

Greg F

Death rate is 3%. 20 times higher than flu. Same rate as Spanish flu when it started.

threecents

Kelp, If 3% of people died from flu, then that would be about a million deaths per year, just in the US.

Kelpfarming

right, btu we are factoring in places that dont even have potable water for their people. Oh, but we cant judge other cultures. We are all the same, right

threecents

Kelp, Half your comments make no sense to me, and the other half are wrong.

DickD

three is wrong. The death rate is about 2% and if everyone in the U.S. got the corona flu.seven million would die. And making fun of any deaths is just plain ignorant!

The Grape of Wrath

Yes, most of the time.

enufalready

Jim Bakker the ex con and televangelist is selling bottled water for $125.00 that will cure the coronavirus. And you say it's the Democrats that are creating fear.Maybe we should all buy a bottle and tune in to Rush Limbaugh the college dropout that is now a medical expert.

threecents

The difference between Bakker and Limbaugh is that Limbaugh sells wholesale.

DickD

Wrong!

About 2% die from corona virus so far. Normal flu death rate is 0.1%, twenty times less. About 15% are likely to be hospitalized with corona virus. 3% are critical.82% are mild and if you are elderly the death rate is 15%

https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-02-11/how-deadly-is-coronavirus-fatality-rate

"Among a group of 17,000 people with confirmed coronavirus infections, 3% were classified as critical, 15% had severe infections and 82% were mild, said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s acting head of emerging diseases. Of the 2% who died, many were elderly with underlying health issues that made them more vulnerable."

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