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Stakeholders work together on response

First responders, members of the medical community and other stakeholders in the coronavirus crisis met at the El Reno Public Safety Center Tuesday. Photo / Chris Eversole

Emergency responders, members of the medical community and other stakeholders in the coronavirus crisis met Tuesday at the El Reno Public Safety Center.
Representatives of the Oklahoma Department of Health provided an update on the statewide response to the threat of the disease.
This was the start of ongoing collaboration, but future meetings might be handled by video conference, said Jan Fox, the District 2 health department director.
The stakeholders expressed varying degrees of frustration about conflicting information, the shortage of tests for the disease and a scarcity of protective equipment.
Fox responded that the federal and state disaster declarations would increase the availability of tests and that private labs were receiving additional tests.
So far, the health department has received 20 additional tests for Canadian County, she said.
One of the participants asked, “20 test for the entire Canadian County?”
Fox tried to put the testing in perspective.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” she said.
“Since there is no treatment, testing people won’t change the course of their treatment.”
Most people have only mild symptoms, Fox noted.
“I’ve struggled to get my head around why we have such a large response since it is mild much of the time,” she said.
The reason is that the disease could overwhelm the medical system since there is no immunity to it, no treatment such as Tamiflu and no vaccine.
The state and federal disaster declarations will help free up more protective equipment, Fox said.
One man said most people in his community don’t have a doctor and asked what he should recommend to them.
Saundra Main, the District 2 nurse manager, said that the health department is hiring a nurse practitioner who would help such people.
One participant said that he and other doctors were available to provide some free care, and someone else noted that some clinics will help.
Main noted that the health department is following up on people who test positive for coronavirus, including notifying people with whom they have had contact.
Someone else said it was important to get the message out to not call 911 with routine questions or in the case of mild symptoms.
“We’re trying to avoid overtaxing the emergency medical services or the hospitals,” he said.
A member of law enforcement said that taking precautions such as putting a mask on a suspect is difficult when making an arrest.
“Sometimes it’s hard to even get handcuffs on them,” he said.

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