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RMCHCS reports its 1st case of COVID-19

By Richard Reyes

Managing editor editor@gallupindependent.com

GALLUP — Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services confirmed its first positive case of coronavirus, a woman in her 50s, according to a news release.

This is the first case of coronavirus reported out of Gallup and presumably the third case in McKinley County; however, as of early Tuesday morning, the New Mexico Department of Health was still reporting only two cases in McKinley.

The Navajo Nation has reported that one of the McKinley County cases came out of the Crownpoint area, but the location of the second case has not been announced.

“Our providers and staff are prepared to meet the challenges of the coronavirus,” Dr. Valory Wangler, the chief medical officer for RMCHCS, stated in the news release. “We continue to work hard to protect our patients, staff and providers with the highest level of care, and serve our community during this challenging time. We strongly encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines on the coronavirus to help limit the spread of the virus. Please stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary." RMCHCS heightened its visitor policy Saturday to a No Visitation Policy due to regional coronavirus spread.

However, one support person is allowed into the Women's Health and Birthing and may remain with the patient during labor, delivery and postpartum stay. One support person may accompany a patient at admissions, but once the person leaves, no visitors will be allowed into the facility to visit the patient.

Terminally ill patients may have one visitor at a time, but this will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

If you have had a fever in the past 14 days or have a cough and difficulty breathing, call the RMCHCS COVID-19 Hotline at 505-236-1074 before coming to the hospital. Drive-up coronavirus testing is available at the main entrance of Rehoboth Christian Hospital for those who qualify.

Preventing spread

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person - between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

To protect yourself, the CDC recommends washing you r h a nd s of t e n w it h soap a nd water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. It also recommends avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and avoiding contact with others.

To protect others, the CDC recommends staying home if you are sick, covering your coughs and sneezes, wearing a face mask if you are sick, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

If you are not sick, you do not need to wear a face mask - unless you are caring for someone who is sick and they are not able to wear a face mask. Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.