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Montana, schools prep for coronavirus

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A CDC illustration of the virus. WIKIPEDIA

“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (1) – 3/3/20

UPDATE 7:03 a.m., 3/3/20 – Six are confirmed dead in Washington as a result of the novel coronavirus

On the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s warning that the novel coronavirus will spread across the U.S., state governments are bracing for impact, preparing to the best of their abilities for community transmission outbreaks in their municipalities. As of press time, six individuals in Washington state have died and unknown-origin cases have sprung up in several other states prompting organizations like the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. As of press time, 24 Montanans have been screened for the virus—15 have tested negative and nine results are still outstanding—yet Montana hospitals are organizing for outbreaks, reports NBC Montana. The preparations have mimicked those for SARS and Ebola, among other potential epidemics. “It is still going to be something that is very difficult to deal with if the worst-case scenario plays out,” Montana DPHHS Communicable Disease Bureau Chief Jim Murphy told NBC Montana. On Feb. 28, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said there will “probably” be school closures if the virus spreads, and Montana’s state education and health departments have begun to provide guidance to state schools on how to deal with infectious disease outbreaks, reports The Billings Gazette. The DPHHS has created a new package of rules for Montana schools to adhere to, including requiring employees to not show up for work while sick with a communicable disease, promoting regular hand-washing, and the right to deny attendance to a child with a communicable disease. One U.S. school has been temporarily closed in the Seattle area.

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