WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One local city doubling down on their efforts to protect residents from the spread of seasonal viruses and the threat of the coronavirus.
Our building here in Wilkes-Barre is just as vigilant as the nation as concerns and cases of COVID-19 grow. Here, we have signs like these in common areas about virus protection and the city of Wilkes-Barre is taking that fight against any spread into the classroom.
City officials brought out ‘Healthy Bear’, who will head into schools and not for any laughing matter. Recent headlines across the nation and our area are riddled with the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Mayor George Brown is teaming up with city officials and the local school district citing a proactive approach to a potential threat.
“It’s important to point out that the present risk to the public is low and Pennsylvania has not experienced wide-spread outbreaks or any deaths. However, everyone can do their part in minimizing the virus spread,” Brown said.
Brown and Healthy Bear will hold educational assemblies as a way to reach out to students across the area and educate how to prevent viruses from the cold to the flu and including the novel coronavirus.
“Instead of making it into taking notes on this like they’re going to study for it, we’re trying to make it fun for the students by having assemblies, doing different lessons in the classroom and by things like singing Happy Birthday when they wash their hands,” Rochelle Kouri-Speier, director of administration and student services for the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, said.
City Health Director Henry Radulski says his department keeps in contact with organizations like the CDC to arm themselves with the best weapon against spread — information.
“Keep in mind that when we see the illness is somewhere else or someone passes away, unfortunately, that is what we want to prevent. The education we provide, hopefully, will help with that,” Radulski said.
Local first responders have also been preparing. Fire chief Jay Delaney of the Wilkes-Barre Fire Department says the Ebola scare of 2014 and COVID-19 are different, but past experience has given his crews a leg up for any potential issues.
“We brought the books out. We’re re-educated ourselves and made sure we had an equipment cache in place. I think we’re prepared as best we can here,” Delaney said.
As first responders brush up on body substance isolation to keeping themselves and the community safe, schools will be educating in simple things like just washing your hands properly.
The Wilkes-Barre City and Wilkes-Barre Area School District websites have information on preventative measures. The CDC website also has a wealth of information concerning all seasonal viruses as well as the growing coronavirus.