COVID 19 Update, October 17, 2020

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The past 10 days COVID 19 has found Wayne County. We have had 9 test confirmed cased and many currently isolating who have been exposed.  I’ll try to address some of the questions we’ve been receiving:

Is COVID 19 in our schools?

To date, we’ve had one teacher and no students tests positive for the virus.  It’s unclear if the teacher was exposed to the virus at school or elsewhere.  Children, especially elementary age students, may show minimal or no symptoms from the COVID 19.  We feel confident the measures being taken by the schools to prevent the spread of COVID 19 are helping, however, with the virus in our community we can assume some children will contact this.  As such, we encourage all parents to keep their children home from school should they exhibit any signs of illness. Please support the schools in their efforts to decrease risk and spread, and practice safety measures when interacting with family and community, especially our older folks and others at high risk of COVID 19 complications.

What should I do if I think I may have been exposed to COVID 19?

The public health department is doing contact tracing of those who test positive for the virus.  However, even if you are not contacted by the health department, if you think you have been exposed (have spent more than a total of 10 minutes over a 24 hour period in close contact with someone with known or high probability of having the virus without you and the other person using a mask) please self-isolate and contact the clinic or the local health department for additional instructions.  For known exposures, isolation should last for 14 days since the last exposure.  For those recovering from the virus, confirmed or suspected cases, please isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or date of your positive test, or until no fever for 24 hours without taking any medicines for fever.  Whichever is longer. 

Is there anything I can do to decrease my risk of getting really sick from COVID 19?

There are no medicines that have been proven to prevent you from getting the virus.  Likewise we don’t think there are any medicines you can take in advance to decrease the severity of your symptoms if you become infected.  That said, the better your overall health, the less likely you are to become severely ill. Start now to lose those extra pounds. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for not doing well. Get adequate sleep (our immune system works better when we are well rested).  Eat a healthy diet.  Exercise regularly.  If you smoke, stop.  If you have a chronic medical problem, make sure the condition is optimally managed.  Make sure your blood pressure, asthma, COPD, or diabetes is well controlled.

How can we protect the most vulnerable members of our community?

We best protect our most vulnerable by lessoning the spread of COVID 19.  The majority of our local cases have been the result of spending time with an infected family member or friend indoors for an extended period of time.  Almost always the exposures come before the individuals spreading the virus realizes they are infected.  When interacting with others not in our immediate family, please practice social distancing and using a mask.  If you can take separate cars, please do so.  Interactions outdoors are much less risky, and our warm fall has continued to make this a good option.  Telephone calls and video chats help us continue mutual social support without any risk.  Now is a good time to limit visits to grandparents and others at high risk.  When you do go, please wear a mask and keep a safe distance apart.  Consider the situation and ask yourself, “If anyone here had COVID 19, would we all be OK?”

What about upcoming holidays?  What should we do?

Every year our flu season really picks up in the days following Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays as families gather and share not only a wonderful time together, but also nasty viruses.  COVID 19 is the nastiest virus we’ve seen in a 100 years!  This holiday season may be a good time for us to enjoy and appreciate time with immediate family.  Small gatherings lessen the risk of spread. No one should spend the holidays alone, but try inviting just a few of those who live nearby.  Plan the event such that everyone is safe.  Create a new holiday memory.  It will be different, but it can still be wonderful, and safe!

Jeff Chappell, MD

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