It seems like everywhere you look lately, especially television, there is someone or an organization providing information about the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that be advice on how to avoid contracting it or the latest on the number of people who have it and are currently in quarantine.
Social media sites are really no different. If you scroll even briefly through Facebook, it appears more posts than not are about the pandemic.
During a sit down with Brad Brake, administrator of Harrison County Home & Public Health (HCH&PH); Madelyn Brunow, public health nurse for HCH&PH; and Larry Oliver, director of the county Emergency Management and 911, this past week, the trio said while there are not a lot of cases in Harrison County at the moment, people need to remain cautious as they go about their day-to-day lives.
Brunow said getting some fresh air is fine, but practice caution at all times. Follow the guidelines as much as possible when it comes to not gathering in groups for everyone's safety.
For example, families can play out in the yard with the kids or even the kids riding their bikes up and down the sidewalk is probably alright, said Brunow.
But a bunch of kids sitting around together on a couch inside, because it is a confined space, playing video games should be avoided for the time being.
Social distancing has been a key word a lot of people and organizations have used over the past week. It is something the three would recommend people practice as much as possible.
The most vulnerable to COVID-19, are very young children and the elderly.
And though many kids might not be directly affected, Brake says, they could still be a carrier of the COVID-19 virus.
He wants to make sure parents understand that and are relaying this information onto their children.
“We need to make it clear to them (the kids), that this is a county and community issue that we all have a role in,” said Brake.
Preparation in other areas is important, too, like making sure you have enough of your prescriptions, especially if you have a pre-existing condition, said Brunow.
And stay away from people who are ill or think they may be ill. This is just good practice.
These are things people should be doing anyway, Brunow commented about these precautions.
If you feel like you may have contracted the virus, take the first step, call to your primary health care provider.
Brunow says, from there, they can tell you how to proceed, whether it be just staying home and monitoring your symptoms or if needed, heading to the clinic to be seen by your doctor.
But heading to the nearest doctor’s office is not always necessary.
“Not everyone who is ill needs to go to the hospital,” said Brunow.
She also said that not everyone who is ill will need to be tested for COVID-19.
Again, talking to your provider is a good first step if you are not feeling well.
If you do have it, of course, quarantining yourself is a good idea. And Brunow suggests that the person’s other family members quarantine themselves, too. This way, you protect yourself and others as well.
As for what will happen next? We honestly don’t know, said Brake, Brunow and Oliver.
That is what is commonly said because no one really knows for sure.
According to an article on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the United States nationally is currently in the initiation phases, but states where community spread is occurring are in the acceleration phase.
Additionally, the duration and severity of each phase can vary depending on the characteristics of the virus and the public health response.
Under a headline “What May Happen” in the same article, it says that more cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread.
And the CDC expects that widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. In the coming months, most of the U.S. population will be exposed to this virus.
We really don’t know the full extent of how far this has spread because we only have the number of positive tests there are out there to go off of, said Brunow, particularly referring to this area and county.
We do have to expect that it will spread, Brunow continued.
“Our point in doing these measures (like washing your hands and staying home if you feel ill) is to slow that spread,” she added.
With everything going on, the talk and discussions surrounding this pandemic can cause anxiety, panic and people to worry constantly about what really is going to happen next.
Brunow and Brake say there are sources available to help you understand and deal with these feelings.
One of them is the Hope4Iowa crisis help call line at 1-844-673-4469.
The HOPE 4 IOWA Crisis Call Line connects individuals in crisis to a helping hand and the resources to address and improve mental wellness. Help is available 24/7, according to their website.
Another good way to combat anxiety is to have someone to talk to about your worries and concerns, whether that is a parent, significant other or good friend. Just talking it out sometimes helps a great deal, says several experts.
There is a lot we don’t know, said Brake. As people know with a pandemic there is a start, a peak and a fall, Brunow added.
We don’t know yet where that peak will be for the county, state or country. But what we can do is focus on what we do know and in general, just take care of yourself, said Brake.
“Take care of yourself and go through healthy habits,” he said, adding those are things like exercising regularly and washing your hands.
If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to call the HCH&PH office, located in Logan, at 712-644-2220.
The Twiner-Herald will do their best to continue keeping people updated on the pandemic as we learn more.