Only 5-9% severe enough for ambulance transport, EMS says
The Hopkins County Fire Chiefs and EMS director Brent Smith met on Monday night at 6 p.m. to discuss the county response to COVID-19, also known as coronavirus.
According to Smith, cases of COVID-19 are just now starting to occur in Texas.
“We’re 14 days behind and don’t know how many cases are out there,” Smith stated. He advised that labs had already tested one caller in Hopkins County, who tested negative. Smith clarified that being 14 days behind is due to the incubation period of the virus.
According to Smith, regional labs only have the capacity to test 25 to 50 individuals at the present time, and tests need to be sent out to Gregg and Smith Counties. Labs follow a specific set of parameters, and cannot be tested in Hopkins County, Smith said.
“You can sample in our county, but it has to be sent out,” Smith stated.
Samples are sent daily from facilitates in Hopkins County, according to Smith. If a patient believes they need to get tested, they should contact their primary care physician and ask where to get tested, he said.
Except in the most severe cases, an ambulance will not transport a patient to the emergency room, Smith told firefighters. Only 5-9% have severe respiratory symptoms like inability to breathe which require an ambulance transport, he said. Without severe symptoms, firefighters should try to keep people at home and have them self-isolate, Smith said.
“We’ve got Type A and B flu going around as well as the common cold,” Smith said. “GI symptoms-- and by that I mean nausea, vomiting, diarrhea-- are not common with the virus.”
Common symptoms of COVID-19, according to Smith, are low-grade fevers that come and go as well as dry cough.
“We’re 14 days behind knowing what’s happening today, and that’s the problem,” Smith said. “Are there people in Hopkins that have it? Very potentially. But I prefer to be proactive and I prefer to be realistic.”
Smith says that “Numbers are going to go up,” on infections, and that it’s “inevitable” and “only a matter of time.”
However, he feels that there is “Good science behind social distancing,” and that by implementing early precautions, Hopkins County residents can avoid “taxing the healthcare system by transmitting higher communicable spread.”
According to emergency management coordinator and Hopkins County Station 20 chief Andy Endsley, the COVID-19 taskforce has been meeting three times weekly and meets twice weekly with elected officials to brief them on updates.
"Hopkins County is fully prepared for COVID-19," Smith stated.
Numbers to call if you think you have coronavirus are 1-800-458-4559, 1-903-606-3627 and 1-866-310-9698, according to Hopkins County Emergency Management.