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Troy residents prepare for new coronavirus

Concerns about the new COVID-19 Coronavirus have local residents seeking health supplies from stores – and they are beginning to have shortages.

Chris Moeai, supervisor of the Troy CVS Pharmacy,  said the store is running out of masks and has almost no gloves.

“As soon as we get masks in, they’re sold out,” Moeai said. “We only get a load every two weeks now, and then it’s not that much because the warehouse doesn’t have as much due to high demand.”

Walgreens reported shortages of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer at the Troy location as well.

All of this preparation comes with no cases of the coronavirus being reported in Alabama – yet. Cases have been reported in Florida and Georgia as well as Washington and California.

Corey Kirkland, Pike County area administrator with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said it’s impossible to say if or when the virus will show up in the state.

“But the likelihood is we will end up with a case,” Kirkland said. “We don’t know how many people that will effect or how it will originate.”

Kirkland said that travel restrictions are part of the strategy right now to avoid spread of the virus.

“If you don’t have to travel internationally, don’t do it until we have vaccines and medication in place,” Kirkland said. “Don’t travel to places where they are infected.”

According to the ADPH website, anyone coming back to the US from an infected area must be quarantined for 14 days to prevent transmission of the virus.

As for avoiding the virus on a local scale, Kirkland said masks and hand sanitizer are not the key.

“It’s a good idea to keep hand sanitizer on you, but I wouldn’t use it as a replacement for washing your hands,” Kirkland said. “You really can’t say enough about washing your hands, and making sure kids wash their hands. Just in general it’s a good practice.”

As for the fast-selling masks, Kirkland said they’re more useful for infected patients to prevent spreading the virus to others than for healthy patients.

“For those to be effective, they need to be tested very well,” Kirkland said. “If you’re sick, they can help stop spread from coughing. If you’re trying to keep from getting the virus, they may not be quite as effective. If you brush a hair out of your face or scratch your nose, you could still get sick. It’s much more effective for the sick than the healthy.”

With spring break travel around the corner, Kirkland said there has not yet been any limits put on domestic travel, but that it is “an individual decision.”