Newton County leadership feels it is prepared to handle issues that may be posed by the Ebola virus.
Members from the county, including Commissioner Nancy Shulz, Deputy Director of Newton County Emergency Management Jody Nolan and Newton County Fire Service Chief Kevin O’Brien recently attended a tabletop meeting on the Ebola virus, learning everything from how it can be transferred, prevented and how to deal with it at a government level.
The county has added links on the virus and to the Center for Disease Control on its website and had conversations with businesses on a contingency plan. Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown has also attended training on the virus.
During O’Brien and Nolan’s presentation on the tabletop meeting to the BOC Monday night, Commissioner John Douglas asked if protocol was followed when a Newton County teacher had contact with someone, who Nolan said works for the CDC, who had traveled to Sierra Leone.
“The CDC worker followed the protocols when he returned, from the information we’ve been told,” Nolan said. “He was of little to no risk. He has worked in that region and he was not symptomatic.”
Douglas asked why a 21-day quarantine wasn’t implemented that “you would think as professional as the CDC is that someone would have called (Newton County) and said ‘this guy is on his way.’”
Nolan answered his inquiries using knowledge he learned at the tabletop on how the Ebola virus can be transferred.
“For this disease to be commutable, a person has to be showing symptoms,” Nolan said. “In order for somebody to be contagious, you have to be yielding bodily fluids. So the way this is transmitted is very much like hepatitis B or HIV, if you come in contact with it and it gets into your mucus membrane than there is transmission. “
The table top meeting attendees went through three hours of training and scenarios of how to handle any possible situation caused by Ebola.
Nolan reassured the board that more people have died from the flu, and encouraged the board and audience members to get a flu shot.