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LOU Community, Baptist Hospital-North Mississippi prepared for potential coronavirus outbreak

With the global threat of coronavirus having reached the United States, Oxford and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi are exercising caution and taking proactive steps to be prepared.

There have been six confirmed coronavirus deaths in the United States, and more than 90,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide. Mississippi has not yet had a confirmed case, though neighboring states such as Tennessee have already confirmed cases.

With the Center for Disease Control providing multiple daily updates, area hospitals have stayed in constant contact and educated their staff. Any patients who go to Baptist are asked a series of questions about travel and any symptoms they may have.

Even though the coronavirus originated in China, there have been increased numbers of confirmed cases in Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea, and the CDC has broadened its travel advisory for evaluations. If Baptist receives a patient with any positive symptoms of the COVID-19 strand of coronavirus, the hospital will activate their plan of care.

“There are many resources available to make sure all protocols are in place to protect our patients and community,” said Sheranne McGraw, Baptist North Mississippi’s infection control, prevention and improvement manager. “To help ensure continuity and vigilance of care, I am available for our facility 24-7.”

Organizations and specialists all over Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas are working together to have the best plan in place in the event the virus is detected.

Baptist North Mississippi chief operating officer Bill Henning added the hospital has “18 beds available for any potential isolation if needed.”

With the University of Mississippi located in Oxford, there are a high number of international students. There have not been any international students who have contracted the virus or showed symptoms – if anyone had coronavirus they would have exhibited symptoms by now, according to Baptist – but Baptist is working closely with the University health care teams until the worldwide issue is over.

On Friday, Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill provided an update on the City’s preparations in the event coronavirus is diagnosed in the LOU Community. A video was shared on the City’s official Facebook page.

“We are meeting with all first responders, including law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services and emergency management officials who anticipate any close contact with persons with confirmed or possible coronavirus throughout the course of their work,” Tannehill said. “City officials are coordinating with Lafayette County, University of Mississippi, Baptist Hospital and school personnel. We are putting plans in place regarding our city facilities and transportation.”

The City is also considering any ways residents may need assistance if any possible closures or quarantines are required.

The CDC requests people treat the potential threat of coronavirus as if dealing with flu season. Baptist is treating it as an airborne/contact illness and is asking people to limit the confined spaces they are in and washing their hands to greatly reduce possible spreading of the virus.