The situation surrounding coronavirus disease, or COVID-2 is evolving rapidly and new information is available every day. For the most current information, please visit this page on COVID-2.
Only a month ago we wrote about the novel coronavirus that started an epidemic in China, and at that time seemed very far away. But now with a growing list of schools, sporting contests, conferences, and other events being cancelled, the concern is now pretty close to home.
As we prepare for the number of COVID-19 cases to increase, there have been a lot of terms – quarantine, isolation, social-distancing – thrown around that sound sort of similar, but they aren’t exactly the same. Let’s talk about what they mean and how they apply in our current circumstances.
A quarantine is put in place when there has been an exposure to illness. The person, or persons, who were exposed are separated from others to see if they get sick or not. Currently this might apply to people who have traveled to countries with high numbers of cases, or to close contacts of someone who has had a confirmed case of COVID-19. If someone is asked to self-quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19, they will be told to stay home and avoid contact with other people for 14 days.
Isolation is used when someone is actually sick. Today, if someone actually has a confirmed case of COVID-19, they will be asked to self-isolate until it is determined the likelihood of transmitting the infection to someone else is low. Your healthcare provider should be involved in helping you determine when that time is.
This term has been getting a lot of attention lately. It simply means that people who have no symptoms and no known exposure to the illness decide to avoid situations where exposure is likely. This protects the individual as well as other community members.
Many workplaces are moving to work-from-home arrangements, schools are going to online learning, and optional events cancelled to make social distancing easier. When these solutions are not an option, try to maintain a six-foot distance between yourself and other people.
What’s the Point of Social Distancing?
These efforts all play a role in slowing the spread of 2019-nCoV, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. If the spread is too rapid, the healthcare system may become overwhelmed as has already happened in Bergamo, Italy. Healthcare workers become sick themselves so there are not enough personnel to care for patients, and hospitals become overwhelmed, with not enough beds and equipment for the sudden surge in patients.
But by slowing the transmission of the virus, we can spread out the transmission over time. This will ensure our resources are sufficient to care for people when they need it. Currently, here in the U.S., we still have this opportunity.
What if I am Asked to Self-Quarantine or Self-Isolate?
Don’t panic if this happens to you, most people recover at home without incident. And by sticking to self-quarantine or self-isolation, you are protecting members of the community who might be more vulnerable to the effects of the virus.
- Stay home and avoid contact with others as much as possible. Even in your own home try to keep to your own area in order to limit the spread to other members of your household.
- If you do leave home, wear a mask. While masks are not advised for the general public, if you are sick or exposed, this will help prevent the spread to others – if you must go out.
- Take steps to minimize the virus in your home – wash your hands frequently and clean surfaces often.
- Finally, take care of your mental health. Stay in contact with friends and family. We complain about devices taking over our lives, but they’ll come in really handy here. Texts and voice and video calls will do a lot to keep you feeling positive.
- If you are feeling up to it, don’t just stay in bed – move around and get your blood pumping. This will do wonders for your frame of mind.
- Finally, if your symptoms worsen, call your healthcare provider. Avoid your doctor’s office and other healthcare facilities unless you are instructed to come in.
- As always, if you are experiencing an emergency, call 911.
If you have any questions about COVID-19 and how you can keep yourself healthy and help slow its spread, please contact us. If we all work together, we can keep our community here in Hunt County as healthy as possible.