October 7, 2022

“Stay home and wash your hands!”

It seems that this time of year can cause mayhem at the end of March, the United States is now the leading country in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has spread worldwide and has come to the United States. This new disease has no vaccine and is very dangerous to elders and people with a compromised immune system. To slow down the spread, the U.S. federal government has asked nonessential travel and gatherings of more than 10 people to be avoided until April 30.

Many colleges have closed down for the semester because of this, including NCC. Tracy Newman MSN, RN is a Health Service Coordinator. She has been at NCC for 4 years and works with St Luke’s University Health Network to provide health service to the college. She is also part of the Disease Task Force and was able to weigh in on the decision to close the school for the semester.

“I absolutely agree with the decision.  It would have been almost impossible to maintain social distancing, and there are so many surfaces which would have needed almost constant cleaning.  The Infectious Disease Task Force already had a plan for bringing education online, so students would have the ability to finish their semester, so we were able to balance the educational needs of the students with the health needs of the students,  the staff, and the community,” Newman stated.

One of the many symptoms listed in the CDC is short of breath, fever, cough, unable to taste or smell. Emergency symptoms are of trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face.

 “We’ve also learned of reports of mild sore throat,” Newman said.

Many doctors have been compared the symptoms to the flu. To differentiate the two is “a challenge” The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory viruses that spread person to person.

It doesn’t make it much easier when the flu has also been very aggressive this season. However, flu is more of an abrupt illness and it is common to have body aches when dealing with the flu. While COVID-19 is a gradual development in the illness that can cause the experience of more shortness of breath.

“The CDC estimates that there have been 38-56 million cases of the flu, with about a ½ million hospitalizations and as many as 50,000 deaths,” Newman said. “In the early stages of testing, health care providers were also testing suspected COVID-19 patients for influenza and RSV.”

Another difference between the flue and COVID-19 is there is currently no vaccine that will protect you from COVID-19 illness. 

“Vaccines are specific to particular illnesses,” Newman said.

Many of the ways to help prevent COVID-19 is by hand washing, social distancing, keeping your hands away from your face which Newman stated, “ is the hardest!”, staying away from sick people, and staying home when you are sick.

“The best ways to protect yourself from this and many other illnesses.  When I was in nursing school more than 30 years ago, we were told that if handwashing was ever an option for a test question in our classes or on our nursing boards, that we should choose that answer.  It didn’t matter what the question was! Handwashing was, and still is, the answer!”

Individuals who are in good health have better outcomes from any illness. However, the question arose if healthy eating and staying active could still help to prevent the illness.

“ I would always encourage healthy eating and staying active,” Newmans said.

Some individuals are more at risk for developing serious complications of the disease, for example, those with underlying health issues like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and HIV, and the elderly.  

“Anyone can catch this virus, and anyone at any age can have serious complications from it.  There is a misperception that if you’re young, you’re not susceptible to Coronavirus. About 40% of the people who get COVID-19 are less than 55 years old. Many young people are hospitalized with Coronavirus. We seem to have more cases of young people experiencing severe consequences from COVID-19 than in other countries hard hit by the illness,” Newman explained. “ The Surgeon General has suggested a possible link between vaping, which is more common in American teens and young adults than in say China and Italy.”

There are many other dangers to vaping but COVID-19  would explain the phenomenon of teens dying from the virus. “Young people may be carriers of Coronavirus without even knowing it.” Especially if the person is a smoker or vaper, this could be an illness fatal for them.

There are COVID-19 self-test kits, as well as a COVID-19 rapid test, that has been developed but neither are in widespread distribution yet.

Newman’s advice to everyone, “Stay home and wash your hands!”

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