Going to have to be short and sweet this morning, as other duties call. Trust me, would rather be here doing this and other writing than doing what I have to do this morning.
An elementary school student is now the third confirmed case of COVID-19 here in Indiana. The school district where the student lives has wisely (IMO) chosen to implement a system-wide e-learning day today (diagnosis was yesterday) and has announced that the school the student attended will be closed for two weeks. Students there will take part in e-learning and other learning opportunities during that time.
Frankly, I think it would be a good idea for this to go statewide as soon as possible. Right now, we have few confirmed cases and a somewhat reasonable number of what I would call probably exposed. These are people who had more than casual contact with one of the people infected, but not constant contact.
Epidemiology is, in many respects, a game of loads and vectors. You need a certain number of microbes of any type to infect any one person — the load. That number varies based on health, hygiene, and other factors. You need a means of transmitting those microbes, such as sneezing, touch, etc. — the vector.
Washing your hands and strong personal hygiene reduces the number of microbes on you at any time, especially those that could travel via the hands to the mouth, nose, and eyes. Staying ten feet away from anyone sick is a good way of avoiding transmission via cough, sneeze, or just breathing. Being careful what you touch, using the disinfectant wipes at the store on the handles of the grocery cart, and all those other things reduces the amount of microbes that can get to you. You’ve cut the load.
Now we get to vectors. We are still in the early days of this, but we also have an opportunity to break one or more vector chains. If we close all schools, colleges, and universities; and, if along with that we urge people to stay home, cancel public events, and encourage private events to postpone, there is the chance to break vectors relating to physical and airborne transmission. Break enough of the vector chains, and the spread will slow or even stop (temporarily).
This buys time for treatments to be developed, vaccines developed and produced, and will prevent overloading the medical system. It’s a prudent move, though I doubt it will happen. If it doesn’t happen this week or next, the odds are it will be done several weeks too late to be truly effective.
Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not according to WHO, but most everyone else is saying yes, it is. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Should you be preparing? Yes, better late than never.
Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, wash them thoroughly every time you use the bathroom, then follow with hand sanitizer after every washing, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash on a regular basis. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Do NOT shake hands with anyone, and avoid touching or being touched by strangers. Or your strange friends.
Avoid travel if at all possible. Right now, there is no way I’m going to a trade show, major convention, etc. If you can telecommute, get that set up now. If you have to travel, use lots of hand sanitizer and go to full flu protocols. If you have to use a public restroom, take full precautions including using paper towels and such to handle faucets, doors,etc. Believe it or not, this was highly recommended before now, and major grocery chains have long told employees to use those practices to avoid getting or spreading colds, flu, etc. Not many actually do it, but…
If you own a business, make sure your employees know the above protocols. Have someone who refuses to wash their hands or otherwise follow the protocols? Talk to them, write them up, and if necessary fire them as they now pose a risk of infection to you and your customers. Extreme? Yes, but while the CDC and others are working to slow it down, odds are it is already here and could hit hard and fast. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
I want to reiterate that there is no need for panic, but there is a strong need to be alert, be informed, and be prepared.
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