Watch for symptoms
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).
- Shortness of breath
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
THE NEW NORMAL
By Joshua Sibelius, BSN
I didn’t lie when I wrote the article about the alleged “Snake Virus” in the most recent Health & Wellness issue of the Valley Center Magazine. We didn’t know how this would affect mankind on a global scale at the time that went to print. Here we are a few months later in a full-blown Pandemic, all of our lives have changed abruptly. Most living people have not seen something like this in their lifetime. We have officially learned Covid19 is now the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2. What does that mean? Basically, the virus that happened to emerge from Wuhan China, and has spread globally, has two different names. It is the task of the World Health Organization to create the name. Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate medicines, vaccines, and diagnostic testing. For example, a lot of people know the name of the disease like measles, but not the name of the virus that causes it (Rubeola). Make sense? This virus happens to be genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003. Related but different. Not everyone that is infected with Covid19 will get SARS-CoV-2. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
There is indeed reason to worry. Only time will tell if we responded quickly enough as a nation. We have globally, as of March 21st 2020: 267,013 confirmed cases, 11,201 confirmed global death and 185 country, territories areas with known cases. This number is only going to go up. We have a lot of guidelines we should adhere to. Social distancing is now the buzz phrase of the year, if not decade.
A lot of people don’t understand that you could be infected and asymptomatic for up to 14 days and spread the virus to someone with perhaps compromised immune systems or an underlying health disease; which we call in medicine “co-morbidities”. The United States is currently racing to build a capacity to respond. We did not have enough tests ready; the World Health Organization gave its guidelines on how countries should make their tests. Our country decided to make our own and do it our way. Which obviously has had its repercussions. There is a whole lot of misinformation out there. I’ve seen everything to “this virus will die when it gets warmer”, and seeing people holding their breaths for 10 seconds as a good indicator you are ok.
FACT: it can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates. We are basically locking down to give our health care system a better chance. You’ve all seen, or heard the phrase “flatten the curve”. This is basically an acceptance that we know what’s here, we don’t have enough hospital resources and we must act rapidly and drastically to avoid National Hospital overload. Thus, things are most likely going to be down for a while, what you are experiencing is the new normal. Perhaps, for quite some time.
This virus is affecting every nation differently. It appears to be hitting men harder than women. Although 65 and older are deemed higher risk we are seeing a large amount of younger people infected, especially here in the United States. Time and studies will determine the cause of that; it’s not something one should dwell or focus on now. We are all vulnerable and have a responsibility to each other to keep one another safe. Vaccines generally take a year to 18 months to make so don’t expect that anytime soon. New drugs can be fast tracked but still must undergo a somewhat rigorous FDA approval and that’s a good thing, I’ll save you the bioethics lesson. Honestly, the best and most single effective way of staying healthy is still washing those hands frequently at least 20 second intervals. People can be sick and infectious 1 to 14 days before developing symptoms. The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Luckily current estimates point out that 80% recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Rarely the disease can be serious and even fatal. Like stated above people that are older than 65 and have underlying health issues such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill. There are going to be people hit hard and become severely ill that were healthy, I’m sure you’ve read about them already. Severe cases lead to difficulty breathing and then you start heading down the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome pathway. Think statistically or with numbers if you can, it might save you some anxiety. Especially if you are following state guidelines and socially distancing yourself, and yes washing those hands often. In addition, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is easier said than done, but once you are more conscious of it, you’ll be surprised how you adapt to not touching those mucous membranes. They just happen to be what we call “portals of entry” for the virus. Those are areas in your body that offer the virus a literally “warm welcome” to your body. If you’ve been in contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread call ahead before you go to your Dr’s office. Do not go directly to the emergency unless it is in fact an emergency. Remember hospitals are still dealing with everyday issues with this pandemic stacked against them. It’s also a fine way to expose or infect a lot of people.
To this date there is not one person that has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Valley Center that we’re aware of. So what happens in case of an outbreak in our community? First stay calm and put your preparedness plan to work. Follow the steps below:
Protect yourself and others:
-Stay home if you are sick. Keep away from people who are sick. Limit close contact with others as much as possible (generally 6 feet).
Put your household plan into action
–Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation. Schools are already closed.
-Continue practicing everyday preventative actions. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (see a theme here?). If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer and make sure it is at least 60% alcohol. Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily with regular household detergent and water.
-Ask to work from home or take leave if you are someone in your households get the above symptoms.
-Stay in touch with others by phone or email. Stay in touch with family and friends, especially those at increased risk of developing severe illness, such as older adults and people with severe, chronic medical conditions.
These are uncertain times; however, I feel adamant that if you follow what’s known your outcomes will be better. We are in this together, for the long-haul. Many have been impacted mentally, physically, and economically. There doesn’t seem a switch in sight that’s going to make everything back to normal anytime soon. Humans are an ingenious and resilient species; this isn’t our first pandemic, nor will it be mankind’s last.