Dr. Frede: update on
Switzerland County Health Officer Dr. Scott Frede would like to update the community on the coronavirus that has been spreading around the world:
Federal, State and Local officials continue to respond to the potential implications and evolving nature of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. As of this writing (Tuesday, March 10th, 2020) there are six presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the State of Indiana. The surrounding states of Kentucky and Ohio have positive cases as well. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has tested 32 individuals in accordance with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We understand that these numbers will change on a daily basis, and may be different by the time this document goes to print. As expected, the spread is shifting to communities and we are encouraging the community to be sensible in responding to these risks.
As we approach Spring Break, please stay up to date with current travel advisories and local information at your destination if you or your loved ones are traveling. Travel advisories are readily available on the CDC website. The implications of travel, especially to areas or situations with a high concentration of people should not be taken lightly.
Infection with COVID-19 has been shown to have the potential to cause serious illness and even death, however the range of symptoms has varied from extremely mild to severe, with the vast majority being mild requiring no special treatment. The elderly appear to be particularly vulnerable to serious illness. Symptoms are thought to appear 2-14 days after exposure and typically involve fever, cough and shortness or breath, very similar to the flu or even the common cold. These symptoms, combined with a close personal contact with a person known to have COVID-19, should prompt a phone call to your healthcare provider, or Local Health Department.
The best way to prevent infection with this virus as well as the influenza virus and common cold is to avoid exposure. Avoid contact with people who are ill. Wash your hands as often as possible for at least 20 seconds especially after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing and always wash your hands before eating. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Be conscious about ‘high touch surfaces’ like table tops, door knobs, faucet handles and handrails, washing hands often after contact. Cover your coughs and sneezes. And, most of all, stay home if you are sick. Stay informed, as knowledge about COVID-19 changes on a daily basis.
The ISDH is working with state, local and federal partners to refine existing response strategies. Currently there is no special treatment for uncomplicated infection with this virus. If you are mildly ill, stay home. If you feel like you need to consult with your healthcare provider, do so by phone. Do not “walk in” for an appointment. Healthcare offices are often occupied by elderly people with significant long term illnesses. Walking into your healthcare provider’s office unannounced to a waiting room that is not prepared to receive you has the potential to put individuals who are most vulnerable to this infection at significant risk. All of us in our community have a responsibility to limit exposure to not only COVID-19, but also the influenza virus, especially to our most vulnerable friends and neighbors.
Stay up-to-date on the latest information by checking credible sources of information, ISDH website at in.gov/isdh; or the CDC website at cdc.gov/COVID19.
Scott M Frede, MD
Switzerland County Health Department