Local risk low for coronavirus, health director says at Congressman Allen press conference

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, a local congressman shares some insight as to how what’s happening in Washington, D.C. will impact our area.

Rep. Rick Allen, who covers the 12th District, and East Central Health District Director Dr. Stephen Goggans said during a press conference that the risk in Georgia and the Augusta area is very low, so people do not need to panic. They said just follow those simple suggestions: wash your hands and stay home when you are sick.

Rep. Allen began by saying, “The full weight of the U.S. government is working to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

At the request of Vice President Mike Pence, he said he took time to make a few phone calls to learn just how the coronavirus is impacting the CSRA. He said as of now there have been two people tested locally. Both cases were negative.

He praised President Donald Trump for his response, which included signing a $7.8 billion emergency supplemental package to help with prevention and vaccines Friday. But Allen said that money is only given out based on coronavirus cases, not state by state.

Dr. Stephen Goggans, East Central Health District Director, also chimmed in on the state of the coronavirus locally.

“The status is we think that the risk to the public is low in our district and Georgia as a whole,” he explained adding that physicians should contact the Georgia Department of Public Health if they see people with symptoms.

But to cut down on cases, Dr. Goggans said since coronavirus spreads like a respiratory illness, covering your cough and washing your hands helps stop the spread.

Additionally, Rep. Allen said efforts are being made to help those people in nursing homes too.

He told us, “Obviously the elderly, the most vulnerable, and those who are compromised. We wanted to make sure they knew of the new requirements from Health and Human Services regarding he prevention of this virus.” Those new guidelines call for ramping up or paying more attention to disinfecting inside nursing homes.

Allen also said more virus test kits and local and state health labs will be available nationally as well.

And in just a few weeks as people begin coming to the CSRA for golf, Congressman Allen said he’s not too worried.

“The good news is it’s outdoors,” he said. “This thing doesn’t spread too much outdoors.”

Congressman Allen said he actually welcomes suggestions from the public on how to fight coronavirus. He said he will take those suggestions and the ones he’s already received back to Washington where he will be debriefing the Vice President of the United States.

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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