The 21st Show

How COVID-19 Is Affecting Local Public Health Departments


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As the number of coronavirus cases continues to tick up nationwide, local public health workers are faced with the challenging task of ensuring those at risk take proper precautions. 

Even though the coronavirus is spreading in countries like Italy, South Korea and Japan, only travelers from China and Iran are currently required by the federal government to quarantine for 14 days, monitored by local public health nurses.

Julie Pryde, administrator at Champaign-Urbana’s Public Health District, says anyone who may have been exposed to coronavirus through travel should take quarantine seriously, from both high-risk and medium-risk countries.

“The problem is there are so many travelers that are taking cruises, that are flying all over the place, going to conferences, doing all kinds of activities, (and) we have no idea whatsoever where they have been, because they’re not being screened for at the airports,” Pryde says. “That’s why we’re pretty sure there has been community transmission here, but the testing has been so inadequate.”

Monica Hendrickson with the Peoria County Public Health Department says they’ve had less than 10 people so far in some form of quarantine for possible coronavirus exposure.

“It’s ever-changing, and just keeping up with guidance that seems to be always evolving can make the process even more difficult,” she says.

Pryde says testing is expected to ramp up soon, which will likely result in more confirmed cases and a better idea of how the coronavirus is spreading in local communities.

Guests: Julie Pryde, Administrator, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, member of Illinois State Board of Health; Monica Hendrickson, Administrator, Peoria County Health Department

Prepared for web by WILL health reporter Christine Herman

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