The Sumter County Health Department is advising “social distancing” in response to concerns about the Coronavirus.
“Specifically, older individuals are at higher risk for more serious outcomes related to this infection. While the Centers for Disease Control guidance specifically mentions actions that should take place when there is evidence of community spread, there is an opportunity in communities which have large populations of seniors, to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Sumter County has among the largest, if not the largest, density of seniors in the United States,” said Director Sumter County Health Department Sanford D. Zelnick.
The Villages makes up the vast majority of the county’s population.
At present, there are no cases of Coronavirus in Sumter County.
“This is an evolving situation, however, which is likely to change,” Zelnick said. “Contact tracing of suspected cases is likely to miss people because it is difficult to know and find everyone who may have come into contact with the sick person. If Coronavirus were to spread at a large event, the opportunity for primary prevention (preventing disease before it occurs), would have already passed.”
In Florida, case counts of novel Coronavirus continue to increase. At present, there are 14 cases of COVID-19 among Florida residents, reported by the Florida Department of Health.
Seniors who have serious medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease, Type II Diabetes, or conditions reflective of weakened immunity are at higher risk.
“They can make decisions, though, that may improve their risk. They should consider postponing participation in large scale social events, particularly those events held indoors with multiple close contacts (crowds). Everyone can help reduce the risk of community spread, until the magnitude and severity of this infection are more widely known and understood,” Zelnick said.
The following actions are recommended:
• People should not plan to attend in-person events if they are sick.
• Maintain attendance records with contact information at events.
• Encourage frequent handwashing, have hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol available and avoid shaking hands.
• Practice respiratory etiquette. Cover coughs and sneezes.
• Encourage influenza vaccination.
The Florida Department of Health has established a call center for general questions at (866) 779-6121, which is staffed at all times. Specific questions may be directed to the Sumter County Health Department at (352) 569-3102.