Amid Wednesday's confirmation of the first coronavirus case in Fannin County, County Judge Randy Moore released a statement Thursday setting out the way the county has handled its COVID-19 preparations in the past and the way it will do so going forward.

“I, along with other local leaders, will take appropriate action as necessary to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Fannin County,” he said in the release. “That is our priority. We are in constant contact with other local officials, state officials, including the governor's office, and federal officials. We are gathering information and we are carefully processing that information, so we can make the best decisions possible. We are acting at the direction of State authorities, while also considering the recommendations of healthcare professionals, to create local solutions for what has become a global pandemic,” Moore said.

He reminded Fannin County residents that on Tuesday, he issued a proclamation declaring a state of disaster in Fannin County with regard to COVID-19, and that he and the Fannin County commissioners created a COVID-19 Response and Continuity of Operations Plan.

“We wanted a clear idea of how we would move forward as a county, and that started with providing the necessary instruction and information. I would direct all county employees and citizens to that document located on the County's homepage, as your source of information and direction in this difficult time. It will be updated accordingly,” he said.

Moore said Fannin County officials will not be releasing the name or other identifying information about the person who tested positive for COVID-19 because it is against HIPPA regulations to do so without that person's written authorization. “This is to ensure a patient's right to privacy, and also to ensure a patient does not become a victim of threats or retaliation. No citizen of Fannin County, even at a time such as this, should be subjected to threats or retaliation,” Moore said.

He added, however, that the rule against disclosing patient information does have exceptions. He said the HIPPA Bulletin does allow for health care providers to give out specific information of patients, when doing so would “lessen a serious and imminent threat to health and safety.” The “professional judgment of health professionals” will be what determines the nature and severity of a threat to the health and safety of the people.

Grayson County Health Department Director Amanda Ortez said, at the Grayson County Commissioner's Court meeting Tuesday, that those who suspect they may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus or who have symptoms similar to those of the virus should not go directly to their healthcare provider or local emergency rooms. She said they should call those providers first. The providers have been trained to ask a series of questions to help screen out which individuals should self quarantine and which should report for treatment of some kind at a health care facility. That, she said, is to keep waiting rooms from filling up with people who may or may not be carriers of the virus.

Symptoms to watch for include a high fever, runny nose, and dry cough, and shortness of breath. About 80 percent of the people who get the virus will not need specialized medical treatment. Ortez said the social distancing and other actions that are being recommended is to prevent the infection of those who might be more likely to suffer severe illness as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Those people include those over 65 and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.

For updated COVID-19 information, call: 877-570-9779.

For more on the coronavirus, visit http://www.HeraldDemocrat.com/coronavirus.