Emory Clark-Holder Clinic physician confirms 3 cases of COVID-19 in Troup County

Published 7:26 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

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EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story reported that Emory Clark-Holder Clinic Physician Dr. Kenneth Horlander said there were four cases of COVID-19 in Troup County. He has since changed his statement to report three cases of COVID-19 in Troup County.
Dr. Kenneth Horlander, pulmonology physician with Emory Clark-Holder Clinic, confirmed Friday that there were three cases of COVID-19 in Troup County.

Horlander told The LaGrange Daily News one of the patients had been sent home, one is in critical condition and one is hospitalized but is doing OK.

Horlander confirmed the three patients to the newspaper after he appeared in a Facebook Live interview with LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton to about 500 viewers. During that interview, Horlander said there were four positive  COVID-19 patients but later clarified there were three.

As of 7 p.m. Friday, the Georgia Department of Public Health said there were two confirmed cases.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, the department of public health reported 485 cases in Georgia and 14 deaths. Those numbers did not reflect the one new Troup County case reported by Horlander.

During the Facebook Live discussion with Thornton, Horlander explained that although the COVID-19 virus has been commonly referred to coronavirus, the term coronavirus is a generic name. He said coronaviruses are a group of common viruses that can cause the common cold. Horlander said one of those viruses mutated and created the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus, which had an outbreak in China in the early 2000s. The current virus is very similar and is called SARS coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.

The current virus is also called COVID-19 because it was discovered in 2019.

Horlander said the symptoms seem close to the flu.

“As a matter of fact, when someone comes in and they have symptoms, we will test them for the flu just to see if they have that rather than this virus,” he said.

Most patients with COVID-19 will have a fever, up to 99 percent of them, Horlander said. Other symptoms include fatigue, dry cough, no appetite and muscle aches. He said a smaller percentage will have shortness of breath, but those are the more worrisome ones.

“If somebody’s having shortness of breath with these other symptoms, that brings up red flags to us,” Horlander said. “We might need to see them or might need to have them see their doctor.”

The physician also informed the public about testing procedures or what happens if a person feels they have been in contact with a positive patient. Horlander said his clinic’s recommendation is there’s a good chance most patients will not contract the virus if they have contact with a patient. He said if a patient is not showing symptoms, they shouldn’t worry about testing. He said those people should continue to practice social distancing.

If a person had contact with a positive patient and is showing symptoms, he said to contact their local physician to determine if it isn’t another illness like the flu.

“If we determine they don’t have the flu, strep throat or something else, and they’re showing symptoms and they’re getting sick, then we would recommend testing,” Horlander said.

He recommended diligent hand washing, not touching the face, coughing or sneezing into the elbow and avoiding crowds.

Horlander talked about the six-foot rule, which works because droplets from spit, sneezing or coughing tend to go three feet and then fall.

“So, if you’re six feet away, you should be safe,” he said.

The doctor also touched on the fact that many people could potentially have the virus but are asymptomatic, meaning walking around with no symptoms.

“The good news is that they’re less likely to pass it to someone because they’re not coughing, and that kind of thing,” Horlander said. “But it’s a reminder to all of us that even you or me or someone else can have this, and you shouldn’t get into that big gathering because everybody in there seems OK.”

Horlander said a person’s first reaction if they start to feel a little sick during this time shouldn’t be to go to the emergency room.

“That’s not the right thing to do,” he said. “You’re going to be around people who are sick, and you’re going to be around people probably who potentially have coronavirus.”

Horlander said the emergency rooms will most likely be busy, and there will be long wait times. He said it’s best to contact a local provider.

However, if a person is sick enough to be tested, they should begin self-quarantine right away.

“You should consider yourself positive until you get back negative,” Horlander said. “I’m saying this because there are people out there who even though they were tested, they are like ‘well, I’m going to go about my normal daily routine,’ which may include going to the grocery store and going around to other people. Basically, you should be trying to avoid any situation where you’re around other people until you get back your negative test.

If a person is tested positive, Horlander said they should be quarantined for multiple days, even after they are no longer showing symptoms. He said it’s best to check with the Center for Disease Control or a local physician about the correct timeframe.