PEOPLE, NOT NUMBERS:
- Testing—it’s not just for people who are sick and their close contacts anymore! Phase 2 is providing more opportunities for transmission. Pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread is playing a major role in the number of COVID-19 cases in Haywood County and other parts of the state. NCDHHS has updated testing guidance accordingly. Please help spread the word that the state is encouraging people in the following groups to get tested if they believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms:
- People who live in or have regular contact with high-risk settings (long-term care facility, homeless shelter, correctional facility, migrant farmworker camp)
- Historically marginalized populations who may be at higher risk for exposure
- Frontline and essential workers (grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, child care workers, construction sites, processing plants, etc.) in settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain
- Health care workers or first responders (e.g. EMS, law enforcement, fire department, military)
- People who are at high risk of severe illness (people over 65 years of age, people of any age with underlying health conditions)
- People who have attended protests, rallies, or other mass gatherings could have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or could have exposed others. Testing should be considered for people who attended such events, particularly if they were in crowds or other situations where they couldn’t practice effective social distancing.
If you are in one of these groups, call your provider about testing. If your provider isn’t offering testing, or if you don’t have a provider, call any of the local urgent care locations or Blue Ridge Health.
- The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has also implemented new tools to help people know if they should consider being tested for COVID-19 and to find a nearby testing place.
- You’ve probably noticed how many people aren’t bothering with masks or distancing in public. If you’re like me, you find this alarming. How are those of us who take the pandemic seriously to navigate our communities right now? The attached New York Times article has some good guidance. It comes down to the 4 C’s: avoid physical CONTACT, avoid indoor activities in CONFINED spaces, avoid CROWDS, and make wise and realistic CHOICES.
- Why is it important to keep up with all these precautions? Is it that serious? While most people who develop COVID-19 will be able to recover at home, the fact that this can be an extremely serious illness for some means that we all must do our part to limit the spread by continuing to wear masks, distance, wash and stay home when sick. The attached testimony of a son who lost his previously-healthy mother to COVID-19 is a difficult but important read.
- We hear a lot of talk that we’d be better off resolving COVID-19 by telling everyone to take off their masks and let people build antibodies through exposure to the virus, a.k.a. “herd immunity.” The idea is that if enough of the population has antibodies to the coronavirus, the virus will hit too many dead ends to continue infecting people. However, the antibodies that protect people against viruses that infect mucosal surfaces like the lining of the nose tend to be short-lived. COVID-19 is, unfortunately, one of those viruses. Our best hope is to continue to practice the 3W’s (WEAR a mask, WAIT six feet apart, and WASH hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds) and hope for a vaccine. A COVID-19 vaccine likely won’t eradicate the virus but, much like the flu vaccine, will reduce the incidence of the disease and make it less severe on average and reduce the need for extreme safety measures.