St. Lawrence County Public Health director: 'Please don't panic,' county has 'processes in place'
Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 5:46 pm

From left, county Public Health Director Dana McGuire, County Administator Ruth Doyle and Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe address the public via Facebook Live on Wednesday evening. They are seated far apart to comply with social distancing recommendations. Screenshot from Facebook.

BY ANDY GARDNER

North Country This Week

CANTON -- With St. Lawrence County confirming its first case of the COVID-19 viral respiratory disease, the public health director spoke to the public via Facebook Live on Wednesday evening and urged calm.

“Please don’t panic. We’ve been trying to prepare for this … processes in place in our department, and all our partners,” Public Health Director Dana McGuire told the viewers. “Please stay home. We have been saying this for the last few weeks and this case further reinforces those recommendations.”

County Administrator Ruth Doyle also spoke and said the county is shutting down most of their services, maintaining some by appointment only.

She said the county is mainly focusing on running an emergency operations center, which can be reached at 315-229-3970.

“Our focus currently is to be an active call center and track and deploy resources as they become available to the county,” she said, which includes distributing personal protective material to first responders, and testing materials. “We’re trying to make sure we are in line to receive it as soon as available.”

Sheriff Brooks Bigwarfe said the Sheriff’s Office is still operating as usual and urged county residents to download their new smartphone app, available for both Android and iPhone.

“The safety of our citizens is paramount. We should follow all the public health and county directives,” Bigwarfe said. “I am confident by working together we’ll have a positive outcome from this crisis.

“We’re still out there 24/7 handling all the complaints happening … We’re here to protect the citizens in our county and assist them in any way we can.”

McGuire emphasized a few simple actions people can take to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

“Even if you feel well, please stay home except for essentials,” she said. She defines “essentials” as medical appointments, grocery shopping and going to and from work. People to do go into public should practice social distancing and stay at least six feet away from one another.

She also encouraged “self-monitoring and be aware of your symptoms.” COVID -19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

She suggested people isolating in the same household should “try to separate yourselves” as much as possible, and avoid sharing personal products. She recommends staying in separate bedrooms and using separate bathrooms, if either is possible.

Those who feel sick should call ahead to their medical providers before showing up so they can prepare for your arrival.

McGuire also urged regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth.

People who sneeze and cough should cover it with their elbow or a disposable tissue that is thrown away immediately after.

The public health chief also said people should “clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces.”

McGuire warned viewers to take caution “to avoid exposing the elderly and people with health conditions. Avoid visiting and call instead.”

And she suggested parents talk to their children about COVID-19, and the importance of taking these measures to slow down its spread.