Avoid corona and flu, practice good hygiene

With reports of the coronavirus outbreak continuing to dominate the news cycle and the flu being a regular threat this time of year, there many ways people can take precautions to ensure a healthy community, according to Adirondack Health:

• Wash your hands often. Wet, lather, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry. Consider keeping an alcohol-based hand sanitizer around for those times when soap and water might not be readily available.

• If you can avoid it, don’t touch your face. And, if you must touch your face, wash your hands immediately before doing so. Mucus membranes on your face are the openings through which respiratory infections enter your body.

• If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into your sleeve. Then wash your hands anyway. Prepare for home isolation. If you’re sick, just stay home.

• Disinfect commonly used surfaces.

• Stay hydrated.

Last month, Adirondack Health conducted a tabletop exercise simulating the presence of a Ccoronavirus patient at Adirondack Medical Center. This exercise was informed by formal guidance and best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health.

Adirondack Health maintains isolation rooms at its facilities in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Should they be needed, these rooms feature individual restrooms and negative pressure air handling systems. Negative pressure prevents cross-contamination in hospital facilities by employing a dedicated ventilation system, allowing air to enter the isolation room but preventing it from escaping.

Whenever any patient is discharged and a hospital room is turned over, the hospital’s Surfacide disinfection system is brought in to bathe the entire room in ultraviolet light, disinfecting all surfaces.

If, due to recent international travel or contact with an infected individual, you suspect you may have contracted coronavirus, you can call Adirondack Health at 518-897-2744.

It’s also flu season, and the state reported a record 131,604 cases across New York this year. This year’s flu season has reached historic levels, but last week, the number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases decreased 26 percent and hospitalizations decreased 13 percent.

In a press release, state Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Even though this year’s flu season has been record-setting, we have seen a decline in the number of laboratory-confirmed cases and the number of hospitalizations for the second consecutive week. While these numbers are encouraging, unfortunately, we endured three tragic flu-associated pediatric deaths this week. I urge New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take the appropriate steps to help stop the spread of the flu.”

The state Department of Health recommends and urges that everyone six months of age or older receive an influenza vaccination. It is especially important that children from six months to eight years old who have gotten less than two doses of flu vaccine in their lifetime receive two doses of flu vaccine spaced at least four weeks apart for best protection against flu this season.

Influenza activity data is available on the New York State Flu Tracker at health.ny.gov/flu.