Board holds COVID-19 virtual education session

By Matt de Simone – Contributing writer

Dr. Tom Kerkering (right)

Botetourt County and the Board of Supervisors sponsored a free virtual community education session last Tuesday titled “Preventing the Surge-COVID-19” with county resident Dr. Tom Kerkering, an internal medicine physician with a specialty in infectious diseases.

Botetourt County Chief of Fire and EMS and recently appointed county COVID-19 officer Jason Ferguson introduced Dr. Kerkering to the session. The presentation set a goal for Botetourt County to learn more about being better prepared.

Dr. Kerkering presented slides that gave necessary information about viruses in general, the types of coronaviruses, the infection process, and a discussion about how to prevent the illness. He spoke about death attributed to the virus in various locations globally. Data has suggested that 30-40 percent of people who become infected never develop symptoms (asymptomatic).

“The death rate for influenza is 0 to 1 percent,” explained Dr. Kerkering. “If we look at [case fatality rates for] Botetourt—for example, let’s call it 8 percent—that means this virus is 80 times more lethal than influenza. So, yeah. It’s serious.”

He went on to speak briefly about the testing processes: the PCR test used to determine the number of cases and an antibody test, which is not useful enough to identify initial infection but will hold future importance as a test determining who was infected.

Local data on the COVID-19 death rate in Botetourt County. (Submitted photos)

Dr. Kerkering gave examples of known chemicals that will kill the virus, such as common household disinfectants, detergent, and a recipe for a homemade disinfectant spray. He also reviewed the standard measures already put in place to help better prevent the spread of the virus.

The last portion of the session consisted of Dr. Kerkering answering questions submitted by residents about COVID-19. Residents were interested in not only preventative measures but also where to go to track the data from reliable sources accurately.

Botetourt County Government’s Facebook page posted the community education session’s full video and can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/botetourtcountyva .

For more information about COVID-19 and its effects on Botetourt County, visit: web.botetourtva.gov/covid19.

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