Etowah County first responders are prepared for a coronavirus outbreak


ETOWAH COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — The latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) report on the coronavirus has our local first responders gearing up for the possibility of cases popping up here in Alabama.

The Gadsden Etowah County Emergency Management Agency director reports they have all the supplies they need to keep first responders protected if a coronavirus outbreak were to occur.

Gadsden Fire Chief Carroll says his department has enough masks, gloves, and gown to respond if cases were confirmed.

“We make all of our companies more aware. We train them and make sure they understand the proper use of their personal protective equipment they need to use on all of our EMA calls,” Carroll said. “And how to identify the particular virus they may be dealing with so they can notify the proper authorities.”

Gadsden/Etowah County EMA Director Deborah Gaither said they’ve been taking precautionary measures against infectious diseases because they’re currently dealing with a Hepatitis A outbreak. There are currently anywhere from 11 to 32 confirmed cases of Hepatitis A in the area, and officials have been diligent in public health safety to keep those numbers from increasing.

The EMA director tells us they didn’t need to order extra supplies in anticipation of the coronavirus because they already had them.

“We still have leftover from the H1N1 flu influx that didn’t pan out as large. So we still have some stockpile, and we’re giving that away,” Gaither said. “Then we’ll probably order some more. But most of our departments seem to already have what they needed.”

Gadsden City Council is doing its part to help the community informed. Thomas Worthy said the council will be talking about the coronavirus at the next meeting.

“The same protocol we have for the flu and Hepatitis A, we can use for this virus. Wash your hands. Clean off the door handles with Lysol or Clorox and different things like that,” Councilman Worthy said.

County officials and first responders will meet again with EMA in two weeks to keep the conversation going on infectious disease preparedness, and the needs of each department. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) released a guideline on how to fight off the coronavirus if it does continue to spread in the U.S. The tips include washing your hands, getting vaccinated, stay home if you have a fever and stockpile supplies.

For more information on being prepared, click here.


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