On Monday, 24 February, the CDC made a startling if not unexpected announcement. The global efforts to contain the N. Corona Virus - now officially called COVID-19 (C-19) are doomed to failure. So are the CDC’s efforts to keep C-19 out of the U.S. It is not a question of if C-19 will spread, “it’s more a question of when this will happen and a question of how many people will have severe illness.”
In October 2019, Johns Hopkins gamed out a global pandemic. Ironically, they chose a corona virus, not C-19 since this was a simulation and C-19 had not even been identified yet. Unfortunately, it showed 77% of countries were not able to collect real-time data on the spread of the disease, which means the reported number of cases is probably much lower than the number of actual cases. The good news is that the US ranked the most prepared. Not well prepared but better than anyone else.
C-19 is in the same family of viruses as the common cold. So, we already have some pretty effective ways of dealing with it.
Older people, the very young, and those with immune systems compromised by other factors are the most at risk. But as with cold and flu, you might get C-19 and your symptoms could be so mild you don’t even know you’re sick.
While C-19 spreads around the world and could play havoc with the global economy, it is not a monster virus like the one in Stephen King’s epic The Stand. Its more lethal than a typical flu outbreak, but it does not seem to spread as easily. In fact, given recent cases of “community spread,” many otherwise healthy people may not even know they have contracted C-19. Many others may think they have the flu and either wait it out or ignore it.
The leaders in our community already have plans.
- Robert Kirkpatrick, the Milam County Director of Public Health Preparedness is already working with state health officials and the CDC to monitor and coordinate efforts. Suna covered what our Health Department is doing in the Hearts, Homes, and Hands blog post of 20 February.
- School officials in Milam County and around the country are developing plans to deal with students testing positive for C-19.
- I have a long-standing policy of sending sick people home. Both Hearts, Homes, and Hands and Hermits’ Rest Enterprises follow this policy. We don’t want people having to make the choice of going to work sick or putting food on the table. We all know where that decision will fall.
What Should We Do?
While we shouldn’t panic, we need to approach this disease with open eyes. It might be comforting to hear that C-19 will be controlled by warmer weather in the spring, as is the case with the flu and other corona viruses, but we don’t know that for sure. People still get colds and the flu in the summer, just not so frequently.
Here are a few things you can do to stay healthier:
- Avoid contact with sick people. Most of us can’t isolate ourselves and avoid any potential contact with potentially infected individuals, much as we might wish to. But we can try to avoid people who are obviously sick.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 25 seconds at least twice a day and always before eating. The CDC says this is the most effective thing you can do to avoid getting sick from just about any cause.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes. These viruses spread thrive in the fluids produced in your mouth, nose, and eyes. They have evolved to irritate these parts of your body, making them water and facilitating virus transmission.
- If you run a business, have a plan to limit the spread C-19 (or the flu) through your workforce. Can your employees work from home? Will you pay them? Where will you get replacement workers?