ROCHESTER — City Manager Blaine Cox and Superintendent Kyle Repucci wish to provide residents with information on the 2019 new coronavirus (COVID-19) as federal and state officials continue to monitor the virus internationally.
Last week, the CDC reported the first case of community spread of the virus in the United States in California, and nine people in the United States have since died from the virus. New cases of the virus nationwide have come to light this week as well, and currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 80 cases of the virus in the United States, including those who contracted the virus from person-to-person spread, travel and those who are under investigation. There are additionally 49 people with the virus who were repatriated to the United States from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship and Wuhan, China.
There are currently two cases of coronavirus that are ‘presumptive positive’ in New Hampshire, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS).
However, the CDC is also reporting that the immediate health risk of the virus to the general American public remains low. There are no cases of the virus confirmed in Rochester or Strafford county.
A principal at Rochester Public Schools has volunteered to work from home over the coming days, however, after recently traveling to Italy. The decision comes after an update to the CDC’s traveling guidelines Tuesday night. The CDC is now advising travelers returning to the United States from any country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice to stay home for 14 days after their departure from that region and practice social distancing.
Neither the City of Rochester nor Rochester Public Schools believe there is any cause for concern for the community. The principal has decided to work from home out of an abundance of caution and is presenting no symptoms of the virus.
“We do not believe there is any cause for concern for our students, parents, guardians or staff, and would like to thank this district employee for volunteering to work from home in light of a recent update to the CDC’s traveling guidelines,” Superintendent Repucci said. “Our district will support any employee or student who, after traveling to a country affected by COVID-19, wishes to stay home and monitor their health, as is being advised by the CDC at this time.”
Rochester Schools will support and assist any students or staff who choose to stay home if they have traveled within the last 14 days to one of the above affected countries, and students will not be penalized for those absenses. The district will also make remote instructional options available through technology such as Google Classroom and Skype.
“The risk of contracting the virus remains low, so we’re encouraging residents to continue business as usual and take the same hygienic steps we always share during the flu season,” City Manager Cox said. “These simple steps can make a big difference in preventing the spread of any communicable sickness.”
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus appear within 2-14 days of exposure, and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The City of Rochester and Rochester School Officials have been working closely together to prepare should the virus affect the City, and have plans in place to protect and support residents. Rochester school officials also participated in a conference call with the New Hampshire Health and Human Services Department about COVID-19 yesterday.
As with every flu season, the school district is additionally continuing to thoroughly clean and disinfect each school facility.
Parents and guardians are reminded that, in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as the flu, respiratory viruses and gastrointestinal illnesses, students need to be free from fever, vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications before returning to school if they have been sick, and are advised to stay home and not go to school if they are presenting any of those symptoms.
In an effort to prevent the spread of flu, colds and other respiratory illnesses, residents should follow the recommended actions from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services:
- For a minimum of 20 seconds, wash your hands frequently with soap and hot water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick
- Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
- When you have a fever or are ill, stay home from work or school
Anyone who is experiencing a fever and respiratory illness and is concerned they have either come into contact with the virus or traveled to an effected country within the last 14 days is advised to contact their primary health care provider.
For more information, visit the NH DHHS website by clicking here and the CDC’s website by clicking here. Parents are also encouraged to use this resource to learn more about how to talk to their children about the Coronavirus situation.