The CDC has reminded us all to take the current COVID-19 virus seriously. Even though our risk is still low at this time, we don’t know the severity of illness or how many people will fall ill from COVID-19. The phrase “not if but when” is a saying that is well known in public health because preparedness and trying to always be ahead of new viruses is our job.
If we always said “if”, we may overlook something. So, planning for the “when” is what we need to do.
We certainly should do things in our communities to plan and slow the spread as long as we possibly can. The CDC has guidance for individuals, businesses, schools, and travelers. We don’t need to wait to do these things, we should be doing them now for flu protection. Which by the way, we are still in an active flu season, so I will pitch my flu reminder. Please get your flu shot if you haven’t done it already. Many people die from the flu every year, and since we are used to annual flu information, it doesn’t pose the anxiety or urgency that the new novel coronavirus does.
As COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu (e.g., fever, cough and shortness of breath), we should be taking the same preventative measures and emphasizing them.
We know washing hands often and correctly provides a great source of protection. We know covering our cough and staying away from others when we are sick helps to prevent others from getting sick.
If you are ill with symptoms of COVID-19, and have had contact with a person with COVID-19 or recent travel to countries with apparent community spread, you should communicate with your healthcare provider. Before seeking medical care, you should consult with your provider to make arrangements to prevent possible transmission in the health care setting. In a medical emergency, you should inform emergency medical personnel about possible COVID-19 exposure.
Businesses should actively encourage sick employees to stay home, emphasize respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene. Some ideas to improve your work area could include providing tissues, hand sanitizer and no touch disposal receptacles. Place hand sanitizers in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene. Put signs or posters up about hand washing. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained and perform routine cleaning of surfaces. Provide disposable wipes for commonly used surfaces (doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks). All the above will work great for schools and worship gathering areas as well.
If you need to travel, be aware of the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices on their website for guidance.
Community level considerations and planning should include plans for social distancing and ways to minimize exposure like postponing activities or cancellation of mass gatherings if that needed to happen.
Also, consider remote meeting options for the workplace. Businesses and organizations should look at how their operations would continue if they fall short staffed and consider cross training individuals as options. The CDC provides much guidance on the above and resources for information as well as materials you can post on hygiene measures.
Resources: cdc.gov/coronavirus, dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus or follow them on FB or Twitter. You can reach the Medina County Health Unit at 830-741-6191, medinacounty.texas.org/page/medina.healthunit or follow us on FB @ Medina County Health Unit or Twitter@MCHealthunit.
We also encourage everyone to sign up for our county’s emergency alert system. You can choose what information you want to receive. Sign up for I-Info alerts at https://r.i-info.com/rc/arc and stay informed.
Submitted by Patricia Mechler
Medina County Health Unit Director