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Togus and all Maine veteran outpatient clinics now screening everyone who enters for coronavirus

VA Maine Healthcare System said individuals known to be at risk for COVID-19 are immediately being isolated to prevent potential spread to others.

AUGUSTA, Maine — You cannot enter Togus, the veterans' healthcare facility in Augusta, or any veteran outpatient clinic without first being screened for coronavirus. 

This was announced on the website for the VA Maine Healthcare System. 

It says veterans and anyone accompanying them should expect to be subjected to "enhanced screening at single points of entry into VA Maine facilities." 

A spokesperson for the VA Maine Healthcare System said individuals known to be at risk for COVID-19 are immediately being isolated to prevent potential spread to others.

They are encouraging all patients to call ahead or send a message online through MyHealthVet even if they have an appointment. Patients may be able to be seen using VA telehealth without leaving home. 

If they have to come in, patients should plan to be there earlier than usual. 

The screening involves answering three questions: 

  1. Do you have a fever? Do you have a worsening cough or flu-like symptoms?
  2. Have you traveled to China, Japan, Italy, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days?
  3. Have you been in close contact with someone, including health care workers, confirmed to have the coronavirus disease?

Administrators say, "we will initiate screenings for all who enter our medical center buildings and clinics. The screenings will help ensure we are protecting our population of hospitalized Veterans, the teams that care for them, and families of all involved. We fully recognize this will cause some inconveniences, but the safety of those we care for must be the priority."

How to prevent the spread 

The virus may spread through the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Dr. Dora Mills, Senior Vice President of Community Health for Maine Health, says the Coronavirus seems to be contagious in the same way the flu is, through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing.

The CDC says there are simple steps to take to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home while you're sick and avoid close contact with others

Johns Hopkins University has compiled a real-time interactive map showing the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, how many deaths the virus has caused, as well as how many people have recovered since being diagnosed.

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