Oswego County: Don’t be alarmed to see first responders wearing masks and protective equipment

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup is cautioning residents not to be alarmed if they see first responders wearing masks and other protective equipment when responding to emergencies throughout the county.

“Many first responders, such as emergency medical personnel, are now wearing personal protective equipment. This is an extra precaution to make sure our first responders remain healthy and can continue caring for community members,” said Legislature Chairman Weatherup.

Personal protective equipment could include gloves, surgical masks, and protective clothing over street clothes.

The County Health Department has established a hotline, phone 315-349-3330, to help answer questions from the public. From 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, people may speak with a public health professional or county staff member.

After hours, callers will hear a pre-recorded message with tips for reducing their risk of exposure to the virus. This is followed by a list of menu options for health care workers, media contacts and the public.

Jiancheng Huang, Oswego County Public Health Director, said that COVID-19 is primarily spread through respiratory droplets.

“To become infected, people generally must be within six feet of someone who is contagious and come in contact with these droplets. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. The county health department follows NYS Department of Health guidelines for who should be quarantined and tested for coronavirus.

Testing for COVID-19 is authorized when:

  • A person has been quarantined and develops signs and symptoms.

  • A person has a negative flu test and respiratory panel, and has signs and symptoms.

  • A person has traveled to a level 2 or 3 country (currently China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Europe or United States hotspots like New Rochelle) in the last 14 days and has signs and symptoms.

  • A person has had close contact with a confirmed case and has signs and symptoms.

  • A physician has ruled out other causes and feels testing is warranted.

“If you have symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath,  please call your healthcare provider from home,” said Huang. “If you do not have a healthcare provider, please call Oswego County’s COVID-19 hotline at 315-349-3330. Do not go to urgent care or emergency departments unless you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms.”

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating.

  • Keep six feet from other people in public places.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Get a flu shot.

  • Stay home if you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

  • Call your healthcare provider from home if you are experiencing symptoms such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath.

  • Do not go to urgent care or an emergency department unless you are experiencing life-threatening conditions.

For more information about coronavirus, visit the Oswego County Health Department at health.oswegocounty.com/covid-19. Additional questions can be directed to the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or the Oswego County Health Department COVID-19 hotline at 315-349-3330.