There has been a lot of media hype about COVID-19, a novel variant form of coronavirus which originated in China. The staff at Gothenburg Health has been following this carefully, and is prepared to respond. Weekly communication with the Public Health department, Two Rivers, has been maintained by our staff as well as communication with the Nebraska Hospital Association. We would also like to help guide the citizens of Gothenburg in addressing the concerns regarding COVID-19. Keep in mind that the measures listed for prevention and self-care are good lessons for ANY viral illness. Practicing these routinely will keep our community much healthier overall, not just help protect us from COVID-19!
What we know to date:
This is a novel variant form of coronavirus, which is the virus responsible for most routine colds and upper respiratory illnesses
It originated in China in late 2019, and has spread worldwide.
Symptoms include: Fever, cough, muscle pain, sore throat, fatigue, shortness of breath. These are VERY nonspecific, and can be attributable to many, many other illnesses. Just because you have any combination of these symptoms does NOT mean you have COVID-19!
It spreads by droplets. When you sneeze or cough the droplets are spewed into the air. They settle on another person’s face or hands, or can be inhaled if you are in close contact. The virus can live in droplets on surfaces for a short period, for example keyboards or door handles, where they potentially can then be transferred to another person.
While there are currently about 100,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide, compare that to influenza, for which the CDC reports an incidence of 32 MILLION cases and 18,000 deaths in the US alone this year!
COVID-19 is more dangerous than influenza, with a mortality rate around 3%, but not as high as some of the other recent super-viruses such as Ebola or Zika.
The older you are, the higher your chances of being severely ill if you actually contract the virus. Keep this in mind when you ask grandparents to babysit your ill child.
There is currently no medication or immunization, although both are being worked on intensely. Communication with UNMC has been frequent, on the current state of testing.
Prevention is our best defense:
Because of the droplet spread, if you are coughing and sneezing, being proactive about covering your cough and sneeze in any manner helps others not become infected! Throw disposable tissues away, don’t stick them back in your pocket!
If you are well, using a mask has not proven helpful unless you are in close contact with an ill person (within 6 feet). This would be mostly caregivers and medical personnel.
Clean highly used surfaces (countertops, phones, keyboards, tables, door handles, etc.) with standard household cleaners regularly, and at least daily if someone is ill.
Consider not attending functions where there will be large crowds, if your attendance is not necessary.
WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN, USING SOAP AND WATER.
Hand sanitizer helps, but is not as effective as soap and water in removing the droplets and viruses.
Home care if you become ill:
Evidence to date suggests that most patients with mild to moderate symptoms are best managed with self-isolation at home.
Change sheets weekly or more often
Don’t touch your face
Don’t touch surfaces unnecessarily
Open windows in your home when possible
6 feet of separation between other people
Get vaccinated!! Don’t let the preventable illnesses weaken you.
Call Clinic/hospital prior to arrival for instructions if ill.
Do not visit friends or family if you or they are ill.
Sick family members should have their own room.
Wipe surfaces with Clorox/disinfectant wipes daily or more often.
Gothenburg Health is taking this seriously, as should you, but there is no reason to panic. We may or may not see cases of COVID-19 in the coming months. If we, as a community, implement these simple measures, we can significantly protect our community from this virus and many others, like common colds and flu.
Other things you can do to boost your immune system to prevent illness:
Reduce your sugar intake
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. This is your best source of vitamins and minerals
Avoid processed foods
Evidence is inconclusive as to whether the following items are truly beneficial, but some studies have supported their use. Do not exceed these doses, as there are side effects and interactions with other medications. Many of the common multivitamin/mineral products contain all of these, in lower doses. Yet another reason to take a good multivitamin daily!
Vitamin C (500 mg daily, boost to 3000 mg for 2 days if exposed)
Vitamin D 2000 IU daily
Magnesium Citrate or Chelate 400 mg daily
Selenium 100 mcg daily
Zinc 20 mg daily
Please continue to follow CDC recommendations, you can stay up to date at CDC.gov