MOUNT CARMEL — The community of Wabash County, much like the world, is focused on the status of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Along with the residents, the Wabash County Health Department is watching the spread of the virus and is working almost daily with the State of Illinois to make sure it is prepared if the virus moves into our area.

Judy Wissel of the Health Department has made visits and reports to the Wabash County Commissioners and Mount Carmel City Council meetings to update the latest in the battle with the virus.

Wissel told the commissioners that her department is in daily briefings with the state and is working to keep the most up to date information out in the public via social media.

“We want to reduce alarm and panic,” Wissel said.

At the commissioner’s meeting on March 2, Wissel said there had not been any confirmed cases in Illinois at that time. In just over a week, there were 25 confirmed cases in the state.

A week later, Wissel visited the Mount Carmel City Council meeting.

Mayor Joe Judge said that the City of Mount Carmel is taking the virus very seriously and asked Wissel to speak on the good, the bad and the myths of coronavirus.

“A lot of people are starting to get sick, schools are being cancelled in areas and we want the public to be very informed,” Judge said.

Wissel said at the Monday, March 9 meeting that the risk to Illinoisans is still low.

“We are still in the low risk category,” she said. “The Governor did issue a disaster proclamation. That is to get Federal funds to start streaming in.”

Wissel said that will help with planning, quarantines and testing.

She added that the Wabash County Health Department continues to be in daily contact with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the CDC and Governor Pritzker’s office.

“We have gone through our counties emergency plan with WEMA and the hospital,” Wissel said. “We are updating that as we need to. We have dispersed information to schools, businesses, long term care facilities and the community promoting prevention. That is going to be our biggest asset in this.”

Wissel said that prevention begins with washing your hands at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, clean surfaces often and to stay at home if you don’t feel well.

“We are still encouraging people to get their flu shot, even though it does not prevent you from getting the coronavirus,” Wissel added. “It can help reduce the strain on the medical system in general. We are retraining staff on a daily basis for things that might come up.”

Wissel said that if anyone has questions, they can contact her at the Health Department at 263-3873.

“I want people to realize that if we find something out, we will be the first ones out there alerting people and letting them know what they need to do,” Wissel said.

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