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To the editor:
Diseases can surprise us. We are in a much different place now, than we were a week ago. Yes we have had serious epidemics before and have gotten through them. ‘Its just like the flu right?’ So what’s the big deal?
First, the flu virus has been around for a 1000 or more years. Humans have had plenty of time to develop defenses. The corona virus is brand new so humans have zero defense built up.
Second we have no vaccine for it.
Third, people can transmit the symptoms without showing symptoms.
Information is changing and added daily as more research comes out.
No country can respond perfectly from the beginning of an outbreak.
However, other countries have gotten on board fairly quickly in regards to protective equipment for health care providers and testing. We have lost some precious time in these first weeks but we still have time to slow the spread. We won’t make it go away but we can all help to slow this down so as not to overwhelm our health care and emergency systems that have been preparing for weeks. There are important things we can do…….
Take this seriously. This is not hype. This is a highly contagious virus. It’s a global crisis that will not be over in a few days like the effects of a tornado or flood. This could be with us in Iowa for months or possibly longer.
DO talk about it with your family and loved ones. Who will take the ill person meals or medicine. When a neighbor or family member is instructed to stay home to recover or is in the hospital, who will help them. Who will provide child care, feed and water livestock, care for pets, care for elderly parents, and pay the bills. Have a Plan B for every Plan A.
Viruses are going to do what they want and this one is an unknown, for which again we currently have no vaccine. Think and talk about the ‘what if’s. DO listen to the experts, the scientists, the professionals on the front line, the Iowa public health department, the WHO ,and the CDC.
DO clean doorknobs and high touch areas more often with standard disinfecting household cleaners. DO touch key pads and door handles in public areas with a Kleenex, not bare hands. Hands carry infection to the mouth, nose and eyes. DO carry hand sanitizer and use often. If you are talking with someone and can smell what they had for lunch you are too close.
DO practice social distancing now. DO wash your hands good for 20 seconds, cough into your elbow, get your yearly flu shot if you haven’t done so. If you feel unwell take your temperature. If it is 100.4 and higher AND you feel sick with cold or flu symptoms- stay away from anyone .. DO cancel for now nonessential appointments.
DO wear a mask if you are sick. DO seek medical attention if you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Call first.
DON’T get all of your information from social media.
DON’T shake hands or touch your face. Viruses enter through the nose, mouth, and eyes.
DON’T try to be a hero and go to work sick even though its a fact that so many have no paid sick time, through no fault of their own. This is not an easy fix because thousands of Iowans have no safety net right now and not going to work means not paying the bills. This issue is for the economists and business leaders to figure out and I hope soon. I am not an economist. I have been an RN and nurse practitioner providing health care the past 30 years. What I can tell you is if one goes to work sick, it is certain to risk illness for coworkers and beyond.
Give thanks to our experts in health care, our nursing home workers, our scientists, our emergency responders and our health care workers on the front line. Give thanks to our school and city administrators who may have tough decisions to make in the coming weeks. We must help them all help us. We must have access to more testing nationwide so we can identify where clusters of infection are and act quickly to isolate and slow it down.
So if you read nothing more please read this. This is not a drill or a dress rehearsal. If you still believe this isn’t a big deal or if you think this is all an overreaction, I urge you to know this. By not practicing preventative steps consistently, you can directly endanger the health of loved ones, family, friends, and anyone you come in contact with.
In the meantime, we need to take care of ourselves. Eat well, laugh, get fresh air and exercise and do something we love. We prepare for the worst and hope and pray for the best. We can do this as a community. It’s a good thing spring is around the corner.
Peggy Noel, RN, MSN, ARNP, WHNP