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DIXON – COVID-19 is not the flu, and people need to take it seriously, the Lee County Emergency Management Agency director said.

The coronavirus is spread in multiple ways, which is why it’s crucial for community members to follow recommendations to curb the spread, including distancing yourself 6 feet from others, washing your hands regularly, staying home when you’re sick, refraining from touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and avoiding groups of 10 or more, EMA Director Kevin Lalley told the County Board on Thursday.

“The 6-foot separation is the key to stopping this thing,” Lalley said.

The virus’s reproduction rate is about three times higher than that of the seasonal flu, which is why it’s moving so fast, he said, and “the death rate is much larger, about 3 times the flu ... It is not the flu,” he said.

The county is preparing for the inevitable spread while also taking precautions to keep employees safe.

Health Department Administrator Cathy Ferguson-Allen said that the call volume from businesses and community members has been so high that they needed to add four phone lines.

“It’s basically all hands on deck right now,” she said.

The health department is also responsible for monitoring people who are isolated and awaiting test results and those who are quarantined, which includes making sure they have access to groceries and medications.

“Lee County has no cases, but I expect that will change,” Ferguson-Allen said.

She and Lalley are working closely with the sheriff and state’s attorney, and they’re also updating strategic plans for the future spread.

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