CANTON — The coronavirus, while not having made it to St. Lawrence County, has had an impact on decision making in the county when it comes to precaution.
During a special St. Lawrence County Legislature meeting Monday, lawmakers passed resolutions establishing locations where people can voluntarily isolate themselves, as well as approving contracts with emergency services for the monitoring of travelers at the Canadian border.
St. Lawrence County Public Health Director Dana O. McGuire told the lawmakers that the Public Health Department is in need of resources to assist in the isolation of individuals returning to the U.S. after travel from China or for those who may have been exposed to the recent 2019 coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV, and are unable to return to their own residences and who, for precautionary purposes, are being isolated on a voluntary basis.
The Public Heath Department would be responsible for the cost of the accommodations.
Ms. McGuire said that the department has been talking with local inns, motels, hotels and colleges about being potential locations for quarantine.
Moreover, she told Legislator Rita E. Curran, R-Massena, that those who decide to voluntarily isolate themselves would not be reported, as there would be no illness to report. She said her department would monitor the individuals and if there were signs of illness, would hospitalize them.
“It’s hard to let people know that we are doing an isolation when really there is nothing wrong, she said. “We are just trying to monitor that so we don’t have an outbreak.”
There are no locations currently contracted with the county to be utilized as housing for those willing to isolate themselves, but Ms. McGuire said she was working daily to become educated on the virus while meeting with interested establishments.
Additionally, lawmakers approved a resolution to contract with various first responders in which they will assist at the various border entry points in the county to look for symptoms of U.S. federally quarantinable communicable diseases as defined by the Presidential Executive order, according to the resolution.
The Public Health Department will pay $100 per trip for temperature monitoring and emergency response services will evaluate individuals at the international borders, using temperature as a screening tool, record the results and provide ambulatory transport, if necessary.
“I applaud Dana McGuire in formulating these plans and getting them operational and knowing what we’re going to do if and when we are presented with a situation like that,” Legislative Chairman Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said.