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Local task force preparing for coronavirus

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
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Leader photo by CALEB DANIEL

Signs like this one have been posted at Green Clinic explaining coronavirus protocol for patients who believe they may be infected with the illness.

A local task force made up of healthcare, education, city and emergency preparedness representatives are meeting regularly to talk about the coronavirus and make sure Lincoln Parish is ready, should any suspected cases turn up here.

“We understand the sensitivity at this time and want to reassure the community that we remain alert and ready to provide such care if necessary,” the Lincoln Parish Health Task Force said in a press release issued Tuesday.

The release said the task force is “taking proactive steps to prepare for the protection of the community, and monitoring ongoing COVID-19 updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

So far, Louisiana has only three presumptive cases of coronavirus, all in the New Orleans area.

Local providers are asking anyone who thinks they, or someone they know, might have coronavirus to contact their physician or healthcare provider by phone before they enter the clinic or facility.

That will allow providers to make an initial assessment of the situation and provide masks or other protective gear for the patients and healthcare workers.

“We are going to meet them at the door with a mask,” India Carroll, chief executive officer of Ruston’s Green Clinic, and task force member, said.

Common signs of coronavirus include fever and respiratory issues such as cough and shortness of breath. Elderly people and those with compromised immune systems are thought to be at the biggest risk for the illness.

The task force members include the city of Ruston and the Lincoln Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, along with Ruston EMS, Northern Louisiana Medical Center, Green Clinic, Louisiana Tech University, Grambling State University and the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Parish School Superintendent Mike Milstead said the school system is monitoring the CDC and state health organizations.

“As far as direct input, we’re going to leave that up to the city and the other entities. We’re just going to follow the protocol established by the health officials and the state,” he said.

The school system has cancelled all nonessential out-of-state trips for students and personnel, including field trips.

“We still have a couple in-state trips lined up. That’s all contingent on what coronavirus does in the state of Louisiana,” Milstead said.

To find more information about coronavirus and guidance, visit cdc. gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. There you will find information on symptoms, prevention and treatment, as well as confirmed cases in the U.S.

Information is also available from the Louisiana Department Health web site, ldh.

Putin backs term limit freeze allowing him to stay in office

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed his tightly guarded political plans Tuesday and supported a constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek reelection in 2024 by restarting the term count.

The constitutional change would pave the way for the 67-year-old Putin to stay in office until 2036, if he desires.

A lawmaker who is revered in Russia as the first woman to fly in space proposed either scrapping Russia’s two-term limit for presidents or stopping the clock so the law wouldn’t apply to Putin’s time in office.

The Russian leader and the lower house of parliament quickly endorsed the proposal put forward by 83-year-old former Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. Kremlin critics denounced the move as cynical manipulation and called for protests.

Lawmakers also passed a set of constitutional amendments proposed by Putin that include defining marriage as a heterosexual union and language pledging homage to “ancestors who bequeathed to us their ideals and a belief in God.”

In a speech to lawmakers debating the package of amendments, Putin opposed doing away with the presidential term limit but backed stopping the count and restarting it in 2024, if the Russian Constitution is revised. Putin’s second consecutive six-year term ends in 2024.

A nationwide vote on the amendments is scheduled for next month.

Putin has been in power for more than 20 years, and he is Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.