Do Your Part: COVID-19 Case Numbers on the Rise Locally
Stay the course, everyone – COVID-19 isn’t over, in fact it’s our time to be a hotspot. Our numbers in our county and some neighboring counties are doubling within a week now.
In fact, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in our region has grown exponentially over the past few weeks.
On Friday, May 29, Clay County had 13 confirmed cases. As of June 11, there are 39 confirmed cases, which means numbers have tripled in just under two weeks.
We’ve grown weary of COVID-19. Tired of the restrictions it led to; worried about the economic impact on each other and our local businesses; simply frustrated we couldn’t gather and give someone a caring hug. To address some of those concerns, most restrictions have been lifted. Understandably, it feels good to have some segments of our life back to “normal.” And, while I don’t want to be the wet blanket, it’s necessary to remember that the COVID-19 virus still is present and poses risks for you and your loved ones.
As a family physician and medical director for Clay County Public Health, there’s much I could say about the novel coronavirus, yet will attempt to keep my message short with a few important tips and reminders. THIS IS OUR TIME. Our time to be social distancing, and even staying home for non-essentials, it’s our time to be careful in how we interact, it’s our time to protect ourselves and each other.
Masking Matters. You’ve heard to wear masks yet also have likely been told that wearing a mask doesn’t protect you and can actually increase your exposure due to a false sense of security and because those unaccustomed to wearing masks touch them with germy, virus covered hands. All of that can be true.
- First of all, wearing a mask clearly protects others. Even if you don’t have symptoms, if you are infected with COVID-19, you can shed the virus. A mask helps you keep your germs to yourself.
- Second, if others also wear a mask, then you’re both better protected.
- Third, wearing a mask doesn’t make you invincible.
- Finally, find a mask that fits well and when you put it on, try to keep your hands off and remember it HAS TO COVER YOUR NOSE or it won’t work at all. Better yet, remember to wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer when you can’t.
Keep It Clean. Thorough hand-washing is essential to help keep you healthy from any germs or viruses. When you touch something contaminated, then rub your eyes, your nose or use those germy hands to put something in your mouth, you invite a potential infection into your body. Wash your hands. Disinfect surfaces and frequently used items, such as those cell phones and tablets.
Scrutinize Your Trips. Isolating at home isn’t feasible for most of us. Many of us have to go to work. We need to get to the grocery store. We appreciate being able to shop in local stores. Yet, remember to do so with caution. As mentioned earlier, wear your masks, sanitize your hands, and also remember to attempt to maintain a physical distance of at least six feet or greater between you and people who are not members of your household. Also, when planning your day, keep these tips in mind:
- Support your local restaurants – yet consider doing so by ordering delivery or take-out.
- Also, support your local businesses – yet consider online ordering, curb-side pick-up, or masking for a quick in-person visit.
- In general, spending time with others outdoors is typically less risky than indoors gatherings.
- Consider a “staycation” rather than traveling for vacation. There are tons of things to do close to home. Iowa Tourism has great ideas, or check out the Facebook groups which promote fun locations in our state, including Iowa Road Trip and Only in Iowa.
Forget Finger Pointing. At this point, the COVID-19 virus is considered “community spread,” which means it’s present in the community so tracking the source of where a person acquired the virus is challenging, if not impossible. That’s why the precaution recommendations remain so important. Some of those spreading the disease don’t even know they are carriers. Those who do need to understand that even if they aren’t ill, they can make someone else very ill.
What You Don’t Want to Happen: Most people who become infected with the COVID-19 virus have mild symptoms and recover quickly at home, or they get lucky and don’t have any symptoms at all. However, those with mild or no symptoms still are contagious. So while it may not end up being a big deal for you personally to acquire COVID-19, it may be a big deal health-wise for someone you inadvertently infect. For instance, I have elderly parents, if I don’t be mindful as my role as a physician and my family’s exposure in the community, they could become very ill.
Consider Testing. If you have symptoms or have had direct exposure to someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, consider getting tested. Testing availability has greatly improved, allowing those who are symptomatic or exposed to have been tested. Locally, we still have to follow the guidelines of the testing laboratories we send the samples to for analysis, yet if you do not meet the screening criteria locally and wish to get tested, please check the TestIowa website as the state has established drive-up testing sites regionally. Also remember, the antibody testing is not widely available, and it only helps in some situations and the tests are not as accurate as we would like them to be. Focus on the now, what do I need to do to be safe and healthy at this time.
Final Words: COVID-19 isn’t over. Remain diligent in social distancing, hand-washing and masking. Let’s all do our part to keep our community healthy. To our businesses in our area – even though restrictions are lifted, I strongly urge you to consider that NOW is where our cases are climbing exponentially. If we had the resources and crystal ball three months ago, we could have guided our small community more expertly through these waters and avoided a shut down, but now we are here and we are having our hotspot, and businesses, restaurants, and the like are places we are spreading it at this time.