Roy Exum: Don’t Fret The Coronavirus

Thursday, February 20, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

It has been famously said, “The mind that is anxious about the future is miserable,” so let’s clear up this one right now: You ain’t gonna’ get the coronavirus. Yes, it has been declared an “emergency” in the United States, and yesterday the number of confirmed cases topped 75,000. But that’s 75,000 in a world of 7.8 billion people. Right now there have been 15 cases in the United States yet we are a nation of 331 million and, as if you haven’t noticed, the best doctors and scientists both at home and abroad are hot on the case.

I am hardly making light of this newest health challenge but it’s like Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “Borrow trouble for yourself, if that's your nature, but don't lend it to your neighbors.” Pray for every soul who is affected but go the Johns Hopkins dashboard where COVI-19 is being tracked in real time and you’ll find we have still got a lot of days ahead.

I’ve led the league in infections for a good while and one of my inner fears is that I could spread my germs to someone else. I’ve been assured by my doctors there is only the slightest chance of that ever happening but, still, I’m almost paranoid about it so I wash my hands with soap and real warm water about three or four times a day. If I am going to be around a lot of people, my goal is to have the cleanest hands of anybody there and, when I leave a meeting or a luncheon or a church, I wash my hands again. I know my habit protects me but, man, I pray every night nobody will ever regret shaking my hand.

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us there is no vaccine for the coronavirus that is currently scaring the world but both agree the No. 1 weapon in the arsenal to stop COVID-19 (or any other virus) is to wash our hands. They’ll tell us the alcohol-based hand sanitizers are okay but nothing beats soap-and-water.

The next time you cuss our President it might be helpful for you to know the United States has pledged $100 million to help the disease at its epicenter and yesterday 16 tons of face masks and related medical gear landed in China. Sure, the outbreak is bad but the American people are “badder” so here’s a fact list from our CDC that may help.

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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CORONAVIRUS DISEASE

(This information is from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention)

WHAT IN CORONAVIRUS 2019 (COVID-19)? Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

CAN PEOPLE IN THE U.S. GET COVID-19? COVID-19  is spreading from person to person in China, and limited spread among close contacts has been detected in some countries outside China, including the United States. At this time, however, this virus is NOT currently spreading in communities in the United States. Right now, the greatest risk of infection is for people in China or people who have traveled to China. Risk of infection is dependent on exposure. Close contacts of people who are infected are at greater risk of exposure, for example health care workers and close contacts of people who are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. CDC continues to closely monitor the situation.

HAVE THERE BEEN CASES COVID-19 IN THE U.S.? Yes. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/ cases-in-us.html.

HOW DOES COVID-19 SPREAD? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but now it seems to be spreading from person to person. It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum. Some diseases are highly contagious (like measles), while other diseases are less so. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably the virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading between people. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/ transmission.html.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19? Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of • fever • cough • shortness of breath

WHAT ARE SEVERE COMPLICATIONS FROM THIS VIRUS? Many patients have pneumonia in both lungs.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF? The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. There are simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. These include:

* -- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

* -- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

* -- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

IF YOU ARE SICK (WITH ANY VIRUS) to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should:

* -- Stay home when you are sick.

* -- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

* -- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

WHAT SHOULD I DO if I recently traveled to China (or any foreign country) and got sick? If you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical care. Call the office of your health care provider before you go, and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.

IS THIS THERE A VACCINE? There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.

IS THERE A TREATMENT? There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to treat symptoms.

* * *

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” -- Winston Churchill

royexum@aol.com


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