Grady County government, law enforcement and health officials met on Monday morning to review plans regarding COVID-19.
As of Monday, there are 10 positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma, though none confirmed in Grady County at the time of this report.
With a larger than usual attendance, the Grady County Commissioners meeting was held in the courtroom instead of the usual room in the courthouse basement.
The representatives in attendance reiterated the general advice given by the Centers for Disease Control: avoid close contact and groups of 50 or more, wash hands thoroughly, avoid touching one’s face, stay home when sick and disinfect living and working areas.
Grady County Commissioner, Ralph Beard noted that there are daily changes to the COVID-19 situation and the county is making an effort to be as prepared as possible.
In Grady County, there has been one COVID-19 test that came back negative and another test that has not yet been confirmed, Beard said.
Grady County Emergency Management
Dale Thompson, Grady County Emergency Management Director, said the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is providing continual updates on the situation at coronavirus.health.ok.gov. Resources, information about travel, fact or fiction regarding COVID-19 and more are available on the website. Anyone can sign up for email alerts regarding COVID-19 from OSHD.
Thompson said this information has been distributed to schools, city and county officials.
Thompson said residents should be cautious of what they read on social media, as there is some misinformation about COVID-19 in circulation.
Oklahoma State Health Department
Mike Potter, Local Emergency Response Coordinator with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said preparations for the possible spread of the coronavirus began five weeks ago, and have ramped up as the COVID-19 has spread.
While testing for COVID-19 has been streamlined, there are a limited number of tests available, Potter said. Those who feel they are displaying symptoms of the coronavirus are asked to call their doctor instead of just showing up at the doctor’s office. Residents are also advised to not go to the emergency room unless they are in an emergency medical situation.
Those who are concerned about symptoms may also call OSHD’s informational call center at 1-877-215-8336 to speak to a public health nurse.
Jackie Kanak, a Regional Director for the OSHD, said employers need to reevaluate their leave policy if necessary and ensure that employees feel comfortable about staying home if they are sick.
Kanak also advised that parents should consider that grandparents may not be a good option for childcare at this time. Persons 60-years-old and older are at a higher risk of serious illness as a result of COVID-19.
Grady Memorial Hospital
Grady Memorial Hospital CEO, Kean Spellman, said one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus is to take a tip from grandparents: use a hanky.
“Anybody can get a rag or hanky and cover their mouth,” he said.
Grady Memorial has been planning for months.
“We absolutely expect the virus to come to Grady County. I wish it wasn’t true, but it will,” Spellman said. “But we’re trying to spread out response to this in the hospital industry.”
Grady Memorial Hospital has plenty of resources and supplies, but these will need to be distributed reasonably, he said.
“We will tackle this virus as we’ve done forever. It’s just that right now everybody is a little bit hyped about it. It’s appropriate, because we don’t have immunity to it.”
Spellman said Chickasha is at an advantage, living in a small community, because the virus is not likely to spread as rapidly as in larger cities.
Those suspected of having COVID-19 will be able to come through a separate entrance thanks to recent renovations to Grady Memorial Hospital. Those patients can be may be segregated from those without the virus.
Spellman said residents should be mindful of the “infodemic” surrounding COVID-19. He encouraged people to check information through the CDC, hospital websites and state health departments.
“Let’s let our heads control our fear, and we’ll get through this just fine.”
Grady County Law Enforcement
Jim Gerlach, Grady County Law Enforcement Administrator, said there were rumors circulating on Friday regarding someone at the jail being tested positive with COVID-19. Gerlach said the rumor is not true. He added that all inmates are being screened when they come in and prior to attending court.
“We would be the first one to actually let people know and let the county know and let the health department know,” Gerlach said.
“We are proactive in all aspects of screening. We’re not going to find out someone has symptoms and just blow them off.”
Grady County Sheriff Jim Weir shared information from a local fire chief. Weir said that when people call about an emergency, they will be asked if they have traveled internationally in the last 14 days or if they have had contact with an infected individual, are possibly infected or in self-quarantine.