Georgia Department of Public Health officials have confirmed that a local father and 15-year-old son have contracted the coronavirus.
Both have mild symptoms and are being isolated at their residence.
Others in the household including a spouse and another child, have been isolated as well, and are being tested, according to Channel 2 Action News and state public health officials.
The two are the first cases in Georgia.
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The DPH said they are investigating who the coronavirus patients might have been in contact with after becoming infected.
The children in the Fulton case are home schooled, according to a Channel 2 Action News report.
The 56-year-old man experienced symptoms following a trip to Milan, Italy. He returned home on Feb. 22, a Fulton County official said.
The father and son saw a private doctor before being tested by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Channel 2 Action News reported. Both tested positive.
DPH continues to monitor the family, said Kemp in a statement. According to the department, people who are identified as having been exposed will be contacted directly by a DPH epidemiologist and monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.
“[State health officials] are confident that our efforts to prepare for this moment have enabled us to manage these cases appropriately and minimize any risks moving forward,” he added. “We remain in constant communication with our partners at all levels of government, and we will continue to update members of the public as information becomes available”
CDC recommends preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• If you are concerned you might have the coronavirus, call your healthcare provider before going to a hospital or clinic. In mild cases, your doctor might give you advice on how to treat symptoms at home without seeing you in person, which would reduce the number of people you expose. But in more severe cases an urgent care center or hospital would benefit from advance warning because they can prepare for your arrival. For example, they may want you to enter a special entrance, so you don’t expose others.
The illness, known as COVID-19, is characterized by fever and coughing and, sometimes, pneumonia and shortness of breath. Most of the cases have been in China, where roughly 80,000 have been sickened and at least 2,800 people have died.
Coronaviruses are similar illnesses to the flu. There are several strains, four of which actually cause the common cold, according to Dr. Cherie Drenzek, a state epidemiologist. Coronaviruses have been spreading in humans for years, and you’ve probably had one without knowing it.
Henry County leaders on Tuesday announced the south metro community was putting together a coronavirus committee to address issues with one voice should an infection be diagnosed in their area.
The county, which did not have any cases as of Tuesday afternoon, said the move was not to cause panic, but to assure residents that they have a plan should an infection arise.
“By starting the preparation now, we will be ready for it,” Assistant Henry County Manager Brad Johnson told an assembled group of leaders, including the mayors of Stockbridge and Hampton, County Commission Chairwoman June Wood and members of law enforcement, Henry Schools and health officials.
In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms discussed the city’s preparations for any potential health threat.
“The full efforts of the city are invested in the urgent and deliberate coordinated response with federal and state partners this health threat demands,” said Bottoms. “City officials — including those appointed to the Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force— are working in concert to ensure the well-being of the people of Atlanta.”
Last month, Bottoms created the Mayor’s Pandemic Coordination Team, charged with leading the city’s strategic plan to ensure minimal impact to residents and city operations.
DPH commissioner Kathleen Toomey said the department was prepared for Georgia cases.
“The immediate risk of COVID-19 to the general public, however, remains low at this time,” said Toomey. “I cannot emphasize enough the need for all Georgians to follow the simple precautions that DPH always urges to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.”
The DPH best practices include washing your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. In addition, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Channel 2 Action News contributed to this report
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