ROCKFORD (WREX) — Local hospitals are preparing to treat potential coronavirus patients with the goal of limiting the exposure to the community at the same time.
In a press conference this afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, “We have been preparing for this for months and are fully coordinating across state and local governments to minimize further spread as best we can.”
So far, 326 people have been tested for the coronavirus and of those people, only 19 have tested positive.
“It’s spread, as far as we know right now, through droplets,” Dr. John Dorsey, the Chief Medical Officer for Mercyhealth, says.
None of those 19 positive tests are in our area, but Dr. Dorsey says as the disease spreads, it is just a matter of time before that changes, even though preventative measures are in place.
“I, unfortunately, think at some point, it’s likely to be in our area,” Dr. Dorsey says.
And because of that, hospital staff have been preparing for patients.
“Everybody has a protocol that has been distributed widely through Mercyhealth,” Dr. Dorsey explains. “With my colleagues at the other hospitals as well, everyone is prepared.”
That preparation has included mock drills throughout the hospital and doctors will take special steps if someone is afraid they may have COVID-19.
“If they suspect they have it, they should call their primary care offices first for direction,” Dr. Dorsey says. “Then we have a very specific protocol, what to do. First, we ask questions regarding travel: have they been exposed to anyone who’s known to have the disease? What are the symptoms? From there, we can direct individuals what the best thing to do is.”
Dr. Dorsey says if you do have the virus, it’s important you know the facts.
“Only a very, very, very small percentage of the patients that test positive for this need to be in the hospital,” Dr. Dorsey explains.
That would include people over the age of 70 or anyone with a compromised immune system.
While doctors are still unsure what impact the coronavirus will have on our area, one thing Dr. Dorsey says they are sure of, is they can handle it.
We would like to note too, the Winnebago County Health Department says there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our area.