Supplied by Wayne County Health Department
A letter from our Wayne County Health Officer to help you better understand the need for precautions to help keep you safe.
My name is Dr. Dave Jetmore, I am the County Health Officer for Wayne County Indiana. I would like to give some information on COVID-19 to better educate everyone. I think with knowledge of scientific facts people will be better able to prepare for this epidemic and not panic.
The COVID-19 virus is a new corona virus, one that we have never had before. It is a virus that infected animals and was transmitted to people in China in December, 2019.
The virus is highly infectious and is transmitted most commonly in one of two ways.
—the most common form of transmission is droplet spread from sneezing or coughing. The droplets are inhaled or strike mucous membranes of the face like the eyes or lips. The droplets can travel 6 feet; this is the reason for social distancing or physical distancing.
—The virus can also be carried to the face with face touching after touching a surface that has the virus. This is the reason for frequent hand washing.
Symptoms range from mild to severe. They include fever, cough, headache and shortness of breath. A small number of patients also have urinary or gastrointestinal symptoms.
We can prevent or at a minimum slow the disease with frequent hand washing. You must wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. It is important to disinfecting high contact surfaces including door knobs, bannisters, and countertops. If you have a cough, cough into the crook of your elbow.
Regarding testing: All testing conducted at the Indiana State Department of Health’s Laboratory must be authorized. Testing is limited at this point so certain criteria have to be met in order for the tests to be performed. In some instances physicians can have tests done by private laboratories. The test is presumptive if it comes back positive. All the positive tests are then confirmed by the CDC. It can take 2 days for the State test results to come back and another 3 days for the CDC to confirm. Patients who are tested are self-quarantined at home to wait for results.
Avoid non essential gatherings with large groups of people and try to stay 6 feet apart. The White House and the CDC are recommending not to have gatherings of larger than five people in one room.
Again, the virus is highly contagious. It has an infectivity rate of 3-8, meaning that each person with COVID-19 will infect 3 to 8 other people. To put that in perspective, the infectivity rate of the Flu is 1.2. Even MERS virus only had an infectivity rate of 1.8.
Regarding severity, 80 per cent of people will only have mild symptoms and will be able to recover in their home. 15 per cent will have severe symptoms and will need to be hospitalized for oxygen and breathing support. 5 percent will need ICU care with a ventilator. And of this 5 percent, half will die.
Regarding mortality, the overall mortality rate is 2.3 percent. To put that in perspective the mortality rate of the Flu is only .1 percent. The rate is much higher in older patients or patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or chronic respiratory disease.
Regarding recovery, mild cases last for a week to 10 days. Severe cases last longer and the most decline occurs in the second week.
If you feel ill, call your health care provider. Call ahead and don’t just walk in. They can assess your symptoms and then advise and direct you from there.
Going forward-If you are on medication, have a 2 week supply at home. Water
and Gatorade for hydration and electrolytes. Tylenol and ibuprofen for fever
If you think you’ve been exposed or if you feel sick, stay home and call your health care provider.
Ignore all cures you see on the internet from herbs to garlic mouth washes; they do not work.
Don’t panic—we will all get though this. That said, there will be many personal sacrifices in the days ahead. Being mindful will not only protect you but also keep you from being a vector spreading the disease to others.
Exercise, sleep and fresh air will help your physical and mental health.
Be patient with your healthcare providers. They are limited but they are doing everything they can to help you in this epidemic.
If we can slow down the virus, we can minimize the surge of this disease that might overwhelm the health care system. The idea is to flatten the curve by spreading out over time the number of severe cases.
We are all in this together; let’s take care of one another.