What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID – 19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 was first detected in China and now has been detected in 60 locations internationally, including the United States.
I have heard that the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic. What does that mean?
According to the WHO, a pandemic is “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.” The CDC defines a pandemic as “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”
Keep in mind, designating an event as a “pandemic” doesn’t refer to the severity of the disease. Based on current information, the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is higher than that of the typical seasonal flu, but not as high as that of SARS, a similar virus first detected in 2002. There is no reported dramatic change in the characteristics of the COVID-19 virus itself or the disease that it can cause. The pandemic label is more about the widespread nature of a disease that has progressed from something local to something truly global.
How is COVID-19 spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
How do I protect myself?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC recommends preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- 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 using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Why am I being told to practice social distancing or home quarantine?
In order to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19, officials know that there has to be a break in the transmission chain. This respiratory virus is known to spread from person to person through tiny respiratory droplets that are given off when a person coughs or sneezes. The best way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus is to practice social distancing which involves distancing yourself from others. This should be done by avoiding gatherings of groups larger than 10 people, staying home when possible, and keeping at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. In regards to home quarantine, this is crucial to helping reduce and prevent the spread of Coronavirus as well. Those who meet travel criteria or who have been in contact with persons known or suspected to have a Coronavirus infection, should perform home quarantine for 14 days. Studies have identified that people who become infected with COVID-19 could be infectious for 2 to 14 days before experiencing symptoms. The purpose of practicing home quarantine is to keep yourself away from others during that 14 day period so that you do not spread the illness unknowingly to someone else. Officials have stressed that this virus can be extremely dangerous to the elderly and those who have multiple chronic health conditions. By practicing social distancing and home quarantine, you can help stop the spread of this virus. (References: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html & http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/toolkit/Preventing_Spread_in_Homes_and_Communities.pdf)
What should I do if I believe I am sick with coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Call Goodland Family Health Center at (785) 890-6075 before you come. If it is after hours please call the Emergency Room at (785) 890-6087. Tell us about your travel or contact and your symptoms. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with others, don’t go out in public and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others.
Is Goodland Regional Medical Center prepared for the Coronavirus?
GRMC is following the CDC guidelines to address patients with infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. Our facility is equipped with negative airflow rooms that are required to care for certain infections or viruses including coronavirus (COVID-19). In addition, we hold periodic drills to address these types of scenarios as part of our standard emergency preparedness activities.
Why are you implementing visitor restrictions?
For the health and well-being of our patients and caregivers, we are reducing the number of people and hours for visiting patients. We anticipate this to be a temporary change in response to a heightened respiratory season including flu, RSV and the novel coronavirus. We thank the community for their understanding in helping us in reducing the risk and spread of these viruses.
We hope this addresses most of your concerns and we want to encourage you to please call the Sherman County Health Department if you have other concerns or questions about COVID-19 at (785) 890-4888.
You can also follow the CDC and KDHE websites for up to date information.
CDC Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019
KDHE Website: https://govstatus.egov.com/coronavirus
* Information sourced from Centura Health, CDC, and KDHE