“Be prepared, not scared.”

"Dear Friends,

This is an unsettling time for our country and our community, as we are in a public health emergency due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Your elected leaders and public health officials are working around the clock to slow the spread of the virus and provide care to those who need it. It is important to remember that we need to be prepared, not scared. However, we know that some of you perform essential duties that are critical during this time. This important work may require necessary interaction with the public and we thank you for your work and dedication.

Heed the advice of public health experts who agree that the most effective way to “flatten the curve,” or slow the spread of the virus, is to practice social distancing. Below is some helpful information regarding COVID-19:

How can you be infected?

· Coronavirus can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Because these droplets can travel up to six feet, public health experts advise maintaining six feet of distance from others.

· The virus can also remain on a surface or object and enter the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes. This is why it is important to wash your hands before touching your face.

How long does it take to show symptoms after being infected?

· It takes 2 to 14 days to develop symptoms after exposure to the virus. The average is about 5 days.

What are the symptoms?

· Fever

· Dry cough

· Shortness of breath

When should you seek testing?

· If you are exhibiting symptoms

· If you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus

· If you have recently traveled to one of the high-risk countries

Except in the case of an emergency, please call your healthcare provider before seeking treatment in person.

While it is normal to feel anxious, there are ways to take control of the situation and be prepared. I urge you to take the following precautions to keep yourself and our community safe.

· Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds

· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

· Avoid physical contact like handshakes and hugs

· Stay home if you feel sick

· Avoid large crowds

· Abstain from unnecessary travel

What is the difference between “Safer at Home” and “social distancing”?

Safer at home is a stricter form of social distancing. There are some differences. Safer at home means:

· Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others)

· Only go out for essential services

· Stay six feet or more away from others

· Don’t gather in groups

It is important during this national emergency that we unite as a community, follow the advice of experts, and take responsibility for our actions to #SlowTheSpread of coronavirus. For more information, visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov or call the NYS Novel Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

David Bliss

Chair, Otsego County Board of Representatives