DECATUR, Ga. – As Georgia’s first cases of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) have been confirmed, DeKalb’s top doctor wants to make it clear that public health officials are ready to respond, if and when the virus surfaces in DeKalb County.
“The two cases identified in Fulton County are travel-related exposures, not community spread,” said DeKalb County District Health Director S. Elizabeth Ford, M.D., M.B.A. “While I realize that everyone is greatly concerned about the rapid spread of the virus in several parts of the world, the actions that you would take to prevent the spread of any respiratory disease is the very same for COVID-19.”
The Fulton County cases, confirmed late Monday evening, live in the same household. One recently returned from Italy. Both have mild symptoms; they are isolated at home with other relatives to keep the illness from spreading.
COVID-19 spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Those considered at risk for contracting the virus are individuals with travel to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 or individuals in close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
- Wash 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.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- 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.
- If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, do not wear face masks. According to the CDC, surgical masks should be reserved for people who exhibit symptoms (to prevent them from spreading the virus through respiratory secretions such as saliva or mucus) and healthcare professionals who are taking care of sick people. Regular surgical face masks are not effective in protecting against COVID-19.
If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 and develop a fever with cough and shortness of breath within 14 days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
For the updated information about COVID-19 log on to: dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html. Find answers to frequently asked questions at