Margaret Hazlett email@example.com
Thu, Mar 19, 2:06 PM
With the rising stress and anxiety that many are experiencing since all of our lives have dramatically changed over the past week because of coronavirus, I just wanted to send some information to hopefully answer some general questions.
The expectation over the next several weeks is that the numbers of positive cases of novel coronavirus will dramatically rise. This expectation comes from increased access to testing and the recognition that PA is now experiencing community transmission. Of the tests reported thus far in PA (as of March 18), approximately 10% have come back positive.
Once community transmission is recognized, the emphasis on strict preventive measures to decrease the risk of spread becomes even more imperative.
Now is the time to be super diligent with regard to social distancing (keeping at least 6 feet between individuals), frequent handwashing, coughing and sneezing into your elbow (NOT HANDS), avoiding group settings, and disinfecting common surfaces. Limit interactions with multiple people, even if they seem healthy. I would also recommend staying completely away from high-risk individuals with regard to this disease (elderly, and people with underlying health conditions). It is best to STAY HOME if at all possible.
As more people become exposed, it is going to become more likely that we will all end up knowing someone, or having been around someone, who is either suspected of having novel coronavirus or is being tested in an abundance of caution. I believe the best way to slow the spread and protect ourselves and those around us is to behave as though the virus is among us. If we act as though we already have it, or that the people around us have it, then we will be more vigilant. At this time, we want to do everything we can to keep from giving it to or getting it from someone else.
Should you be notified that you were exposed to someone who has tested positive, you should take these precautions to the next level and self-quarantine for 14 days. Should you be notified that you were exposed to someone who is undergoing testing; while there is no obligation on the part of the individual being tested to notify contacts, the recommendation is to notify so that individuals are encouraged to either self-quarantine or follow the strict social distancing practices if not already being done. If you become symptomatic (fever and respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath), you should call your primary care provider (PCP) to let them know of your symptoms and inform them that you were potentially exposed to someone who either tested positive or is under suspicion for the virus. Your PCP will direct you as to the next steps for evaluation and/or testing. At this point testing is not recommended and is not available for people without symptoms regardless of exposure history. If exposed to an individual who tests positive, SELF-QUARANTINE.
If everyone is following social distancing and self-care practices at all times, the likelihood of spread is dramatically reduced. Less spread means less infection, which leads to less illness and less risk for the high-risk population. It also helps decrease the burden on the systems taking care of these sicker individuals while also trying to provide care to the normal volume of illness within the system.
For more information, see F&M’s COVID-19 information page, along with information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
I know this is a stressful time. I hope that having more information helps to lessen the anxiety you may be feeling. Keep your connections to others active by talking with friends and family on the phone or via online platforms. Shared burdens are easier to carry. Keep well.
Amy A Myers, MD
Franklin and Marshall Student Wellness Center