This sign urges residents to keep their hands clean as the coronavirus spreads throughout the world.

WEST CHESTER—The Chester County Health Department is taking a proactive role in the worldwide coronavirus outbreak by preparing a plan of action to help prevent its spread and to provide up-to-date communication with schools and the business community.

Officials at the Chester County Health Department are in the final stages of preparing a tool kit to be used by the community and disseminated via the county Chambers of Commerce.

"We continue to connect businesses with each other and with medical experts when they contact us," said Guy Ciarrocchi, president and CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry." On a very positive note, this is a moment of information sharing and partnering—no one is looking for a competitive advantage over each other."

County officials have established a comprehensive “Continuity of Operations” Plan – known as COOP, to ensure Chester County Government continues to provide crucial services to residents in the event of a coronavirus emergency.

County commissioners last week tasked county administrative staff, Health Department leaders and leaders of the Department of Emergency Services to review and update the County’s COOP plans, taking into account potential stages of development of coronavirus. This has already started with regular messages to staff that give updates on coronavirus and include important messages on ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"Many businesses—mostly those in healthcare or those with significant international business in Asia—are taking steps to educate employees and to talk about traveling to, or welcoming or hosting clients and co-workers from China and nearby nations," Ciarrocchi said.

Cirrocchi said the focus now is on information sharing and ensuring the lines of communication remain open so residents and businesses can get accurate information so they can make informed decisions.

The Chester County Health Department has been partnering, and will continue to partner with the Chester County Intermediate Unit, to guide school districts and independent schools on their communication with school students, faculty, staff and families regarding coronavirus.

The Chester County Health Department has informed superintendents of local school districts that protocols are in place to minimize the spread of illness to students and staff and that they are reviewing emergency preparedness plans in the event of a widespread outbreak that requires more action.

Al all Chester County school districts, custodial crews are performing additional cleanings of classrooms and touch surfaces like desktops and door handles to prevent the spread of illness.

"We have protocols in place to minimize the spread of illness to our students and staff and we are reviewing our emergency preparedness plans in the event of a widespread outbreak that requires more action," Cirrocchi said. "We have and will continue to work with the Chester County Health Department to implement plans and protocols quickly."

On its web site, the Chester County Health Department offers these safety tips:

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners that are at least 60-95% percent alcohol are also effective.

Cover your coughs and sneezes. The main way that the flu spreads is from person to person is in the droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it is important to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your elbow or shoulder, not into your hands.

Do not to share personal items such as drinks, food or utensils.

Do not attend school if you are sick. Any student or staff who is determined to be sick while at school will be sent home.

Keep sick individuals at home for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

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