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COVID-19, Protecting Your Family, Know The Rules, Don't be Afraid

Dr. David Price from Cornell describes some of the most important things to know regarding COVID-19.

Some highlights from this video, paraphrasing some of Dr. Price's excellent knowledge and important tidbits. Thank you doctor, excellent video, and thank you for your service to patients with COVID! Some of our added points are in italics. Please note than the information in this blog entry is not a substitute for medical advice from YOUR healthcare provider. If you would like that to be us, contact us, but please do not use this blog entry as medical advice.

1.) The vast majority of people are getting COVID-19 from having the virus on their hands, and then touching their face. This means hand hygeine is the #1 most important thing you and your family can do to protect themselves from contracting the disease. Also, not touching your face and training yourself to avoid this, is equally the #1 most important thing you can do to protect yourself.

2.) Consider wearing a bandana or other face cover while outside to practice avoiding touching your face. You don't need to wear a surgical mask, just some form of face cover to train yourself. Masks for the general population are actually intended less to stop airborne droplets and respiratory spread, and more to train yourself. With proper social distancing, it's highly unlikely a stranger will spread this you. If think of this disease as something you can only give yourself, and not something that someone else will give you, you don't need to be scared or suspicious of other people.

3.) COVID-19 is in your community. Just assume it is at this point. Don't look at others as potential threats to your family. A delivery person or grocery checker is taking on risk and providing a massively important service, so please treat them with kindness... do not, however, high five them or shake their hand to thank them. It's likely the only way you'll get COVID-19 is by touching your face after: shaking hands, touching a doorknob someone else touched, or touching an infected person. Using sanitizing agents for your hands can help protect you, especially after touching common objects. Frequent hand washing can help protect you in the same way. Use other parts of your body, such as elbows, shoulders, etc to open doors.

4.) It may not be necessary to sanitize your groceries. (See video we previously posted, which is an excellent reminder that bringing groceries and packages into your house is still a potential vector for disease, it's just a very low probability). If you bring in groceries or packages, keeping them quarantined for a time and sanitizing is going the extra mile, may be excessive, but is protective nonetheless. We have seen news reports of people licking products, coughing on produce, and spitting on packages. It's likely those things are being dealt with when they occur, however taking precautions is helpful.

5.) COVID-19 is weak! It does not stand up to disinfecting. If you practice proper hygiene, you help protect yourself.

6.) If someone in your family has COVID-19 and others are not symptomatic, that person should be isolated from the rest of the family for at least 1-2 weeks, until they're feeling better. Take care of them, and treat them with kindness and compassion, but avoid physical contact, and practice social distancing as much as possible. If you have a high risk person living in your home (elderly, immunosuppressed, chronic disease) isolation needs to be taken very seriously if someone else in the family has COVID, and consider finding another living arrangement for the high risk person for a temporary period, especially if isolation is not possible and if an alternate arrangement is available.

The vast majority of spread of COVID-19 is among family members. This is especially important if you're the person with COVID. Take care to avoid touching things unnecessarily, identify the things you've touched so they can be sanitized, don't invade personal space and minimize time outside of isolation, wash hands before meals, and wear a mask in common areas.

7.) If you are not working in healthcare, N95 masks are not necessary for you to use. Consider donating them to your local hospital if you have a stash. Call the hospital, not the COVID hotline to ask them if they accept donations of personal protective equipment. Make masks for yourself and then donate your commercially produced surgical masks. At present, Utah is working on a protocol for people to produce surgical grade masks, however Intermountain Healthcare and University of Utah are not currently accepting homemade masks, however this may change in the future.

Please do not call the Utah COVID-19 hotline to ask them about donating masks, food or products. These lines need to be open for people looking for medical help.

8.) We still don't know how COVID-19 behaves fully.

- It is a reality that this disease will become a recurring or regular infection. Right now, each person who contacts COVID-19 is seeing it for the first time. There are 2 ways people become acquainted with diseases. In the first, our immune system learns about disease by coming in contact with it and developing antibodies (immune protection). The second way that people become exposed is through vaccination. Since vaccines have been developed to various diseases like Influenza, measles, polio, people get injections with vaccines that expose their immune system before they get the disease. We will likely have a vaccine at some point (this is not a given, but research is underway around the world to find a vaccine), and that process takes a lot of time, up to 12-18 months, as these products must be tested thoroughly so as not to spread disease or endanger people's lives.

9.) When TO and when NOT TO go to the hospital or get testing:

When NOT to go:

- If you are having mild cold symptoms or a fever, it is not necessary to go to the hospital.

- If you have mild symptoms or are unsure of your status or whether you should get tested, contact your healthcare provider by calling their office (Canyonlands Natural Medicine is offering virtual and phone visits).

- Confirmed COVID positive tests do not necessarily require hospitalization. If you are stable and asymptomatic or have mild flu-like symptoms or a cough, you do not need to go to the hospital. Practice isolation and social distancing recommendations. If your symptoms worsen and you develop shortness of breath and you've been diagnosed with COVID, you should seek medical attention.

- Testing and availability is variable. Ask your provider or check your local health authority's website for information regarding test qualification. Thus far in Utah, tests are being reserved for those with moderate to severe symptoms, who are symptomatic with chronic underlying disease, or who have been in contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

When TO GO:

- If you are having shortness of breath at rest or when you get up to go to the bathroom, this is the time to go to the hospital. If you are an asthmatic, note if this feels different from your normal asthma symptoms and if you have a fever, cough or flu-like symptom. This will help you differentiate if you've been triggered by something or if you might have COVID.

- If your symptoms are rapidly worsening and you've developed shortness of breath, then you should go to the hospital.

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