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May 27, 2020

3/25/2020 1:20:00 PM
3 coronavirus cases now in JC
Basic protective hygiene measures against the COVID-19 virus
Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer; see online videos on the most thorough way to wash your hands.

Disinfect surfaces that others have touched

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Stay home if you feel unwell.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Cough and sneeze into the elbow or into a tissue.

Avoid areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Look at the Indiana COVID-19 county level case dashboard online at coronavirus.in.gov. It shows where and how many COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in each Indiana county.

Maintain social distancing of at least six feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

How to do social distancing

Pay attention to announcements that events have been canceled.

Stay at least six feet away from other people to lessen your chances of catching COVID-19.

Work from home instead of at an office.

Visit loved ones by electronic devices or the telephone instead of in person.

Cancel or postpone events.

Do not hug, kiss or shake hands.

If you feel unwell, or you are at high risk, consider self-quarantine - including staying at home and at least six feet away from people in your household.

This includes not having visitors; if you do, stay at least six feet away from visitors in your home.

Do not share things like towels, utensils or cups.

Susan King

Jennings County now has three diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Indiana Department of Health reported Wednesday.

We thought it would be useful to explain the two technical terms that prompted Gov. Eric Holcomb this week to order the closing of all nonessential businesses in the state and asked people to do "social distancing."

Social distancing is when people voluntarily keep their distance from other people to avoid catching a disease. It also involves good hygiene practices (see sidebar).

Flattening the curve is delaying the onset of disease and thus conserving the use of equipment that is in limited supply. It's keeping the medical need for ventilators, medical supplies and personnel low enough to meet demand for them in your area.

Social distancing is practiced to delay the development of new cases. By delaying new cases, it prevents a state or region from having too many cases at once in areas at a time where there may not be enough lifesaving equipment and health care workers.

COVID-19 is a contagious disease. A person infected with it will typically infect roughly four additional people. COVID-19 is more infectious than the flu and results in death more frequently than does the flu. COVID-19 spreads by a healthy person's hands coming into contact with a surface or object with the active virus on it or by being close enough to an infected person (within about six feet) to receive the infected person's respiratory droplets sent into the air by their coughing or sneezing. People on airplanes, in concerts, movie theaters, crowded restaurants, stores and sporting events are usually within six feet of other people. Some of these people may be unknowingly infected.

These droplets from an infected person can land in the mouth or nose or possibly be inhaled into the lungs of nearby healthy people. If your hand has touched an infected surface and then touches your face you may transmit the virus to yourself. Spread is possible from an infected person who is unaware of is unaware of being ill or having any symptoms. Symptoms can be mild at first, but may develop within 14 days of contracting the virus. Once contracted, the disease can become deadly within three to five weeks. The elderly and people with preexisting heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease are at especial risk, but many people between 20 and 60 have also had deadly cases.

Social distancing is the basic idea of keeping away from people. Social distancing delays people from contracting the disease from others. This is important because there is no vaccine or known cure for the disease. Perhaps 20 to 40 percent of patients with the disease will need hospitalization and require the use of a ventilator in an intensive care unit.

Not all hospitals have intensive care units and ventilators. Ventilators are expensive, costing roughly $50,000 apiece and require a surgical procedure. The machines are in limited supply. The government thus far has not ordered more to be manufactured, and there is no "inhaler" or other substitute for one if a person cannot breathe and goes into respiratory arrest. Cancer and heart patients and other people in intensive care also use ventilators. The machines force oxygen into the lungs of people who cannot breathe and also pump out fluids from the lungs.

Flattening the curve can now be explained. If everyone gets sick at the same time, the sickest people will generally be very sick all at the same time. That means there is a great demand for lifesaving ventilators by all the gravely ill people - all at the same time, not counting the heart and cancer patients already using a hospital's ventilators.

If new COVID-19 cases can be delayed by several weeks or months by people practicing social distancing, patients using ventilators now can recover and the machines then can be used on new sets of patients. This is called flattening the curve. It's similar to slowing the demand of the entire public for the hottest new gadget or doll. New gadgets can be turned out by the millions. Ventilators cannot. By slowing the spread of the disease through effective social distancing, fewer people are seriously ill at the same time. Because the disease is spread out over more time, demand for ventilators at any one time is reduced. This would make existing ventilators available to take care of more people, hopefully enough for everyone who needs one. Since not all patients are in the same place, after heavy demand lets up in one area, hospitals can then transfer the now unneeded ventilators to different hospitals to meet changing demand in different areas.

Flattening the curve by social distancing is an act of compassion and love. It helps oneself, one's family and the community.

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, March 27, 2020
Article comment by: Mary Woodall

Thanks for this informative article. Does our hospital have a ventilator machine or an ICU?

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