We now have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 here in Indiana. It is a case study in how to do things right if you think you have, or have been exposed to, COVID-19.
The basic story is here. Whatever I may think of the person for having gone to an event at this time, they did things right in a way that should become the text book example of what to do if you have/have been exposed to COVID-19.
Note that they contacted the state health department as soon as they suspected. Working with them, they went to a hospital and parked away from everyone else. They contacted the hospital by phone, who had already been contacted by the state. This allowed them to have those responding take all appropriate precautions. They then took the person in via an entrance not normally used by the public, after putting them in clothing/gear to prevent spread. They was taken to an area of negative pressure for testing. Given that the case is mild at this time, they was taken out the same way and put in quarantine at home.
All of this allowed for: protection of the medical team/first responders involved; it allowed easy decontamination of the areas where this person went; it ensured that the chance of spread to anyone — especially other patients — was minimized.
Note that they did not go to a doc-in-the-box; they did not go to the ER directly; and, they minimized exposure to the public. This is how you do it.
Doing my normal bi-weekly shopping yesterday, I saw panic. People were wearing masks, which is in many respects idiotic. The one person I saw doing it right was from our SE Asian population and they were wearing a mask because they clearly were ill. I steered well clear of them. The others, well, not so much and not so well. Good luck finding disinfectants, hand sanitizer, etc. If you waited until now to begin preparing, well, sucks to be you. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Again, wearing a mask if you are sick is a good idea. If not, you are mostly asking to be sick as few know how to put them on, how to wear them, and — most importantly — how to take them off without increasing your risk of infection. Masks, gloves, and other precautions require you to treat them as hazmat, not just throw them in the trash.
Again (and again) the best way to protect yourself here in the U.S. is to stay away from anyone obviously ill, and to wash your hands well and frequently, particularly after using the bathroom. In between washings, use hand sanitizer on a regular basis. Keep your booger hooks away from your face as much as possible. Don’t shake hands. For me, I like the idea of using the Vulcan salute instead.
Given that most people, especially those falling for politico-media fear mongering, have less sense than God gave a cherrystone clam, I would avoid crowds and as much as possible and avoid medical triage areas such as doc-in-the-boxes and ERs. Most people are not, unless educated by posts such as this one and actual medical statements, are going to flock to such places en masse which will increase the rate of exposure and the rate of infection.
If you think you have been exposed, or that you have COVID-19, do like this person. Call your state or local health agency and work with them so as to minimize the chance of exposing anyone, especially medical or other first responders.
Per my previous posts, if you are a first responder of any type, go to the highest level of precaution your department will allow — especially if responding to a report of someone ill. We can’t afford to have a dozen or more first responders quarantined for each incident as happened in Washington state (see previous posts).
With luck, planning, and people taking sensible precautions, the spread of COVID-19 can continue to be slowed until the weather gets better. There is a reason winter is worse for the flu, and the longer we can put off major spread the better. Also, keep in mind that the majority of cases are going to be mild, in keeping with a flu epidemic (which we have every year). There are a number of reasons it will not be as nasty and deadly here as in China (again, see previous posts). Panic will not help, and in fact will hurt. If you are older (60+) and have underlying health conditions, go to full, stringent, flu precautions as you are the most likely to have real problems with COVID-19. Right now, based on data from here in the U.S., 70+ with underlying health conditions is where we have the highest mortality.
It will be at least another 4- to 6-weeks before we have good data on COVID-19 here in the U.S. Data from China, Iran, etc., is both highly suspect (hint, the Chinese government and other governments have and are lying) and not directly applicable. Don’t panic.
Best thing you can do, other than washing your hands frequently, is to prepare for a possible quarantine. Make sure you have food, medicines, and other supplies to stay at home without leaving for at lest two weeks. This includes financial preparations where possible. Stock up prudently, in that what you buy should be what you normally would eat, drink, need. That way, if not needed, you simply fold it into your normal operations and move on while saving some money on food and such on the far end.
This is NOT Capt. Tripps, and while it will be a pain in the end, it is not something over which to panic. Unless you are in that specific demographic for it to be bad or fatal, you will get by. The major impact will be economic, though I suspect/hope it will change how we do business on several levels. We’ve slowly been trending towards remote work, and I expect that to become more the norm. I won’t object if handshaking becomes a thing of the past. For those smart and fast, there are some potentially fantastic business opportunities as we rightly move away from single-point failures in the supply chain.
Again, and again, and again: it is not a cause for panic. Be smart, be informed, and take media/politico reports with a tun of salt. Instead of a tun, maybe even a ton or two of salt.
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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