The past year has been a whirlwind. We, collectively as a global society and as a nation have endured great hardship due to a virus. It has not been the first-time humanity has faced a challenge against a tiny enemy and it may not be the last. The only way out is to keep our minds open to knowledge and our hearts open to realization that we cannot win without the support of each and every one of us.
Our goal is to keep our families informed and up to date. Information will be modified as needed as more data is collected. This is what we know so far.
About Coronaviruses & COVID-19
Human coronaviruses are named as such for the crown-like spikes on their surface. There are several that cause illness in people. There have been coronaviruses that infect animals initially, then evolve to be transmitted to people and in turn make them sick. They become new (or novel) human coronaviruses. Recent examples are MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012) and SARS-Co V (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002.)
In late December 2019, there were reports out of China of a virus that was causing severe illness and death to individuals. It was isolated and found to be the most recent coronavirus that made the leap from animals to infecting humans, SARS-CoV2. Due to airplane travel, the virus was able to seed itself worldwide. Within a few short months in 2020, we were in a global pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 or COVID 19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019) as it more commonly known, has put our governments, society, scientists, and doctors to the test.
COVID-19 now has variants due to mutations. As it continues to spread, the virus has changed itself or mutated. These changes have made it more contagious and can cause more detrimental disease. To date, there are variants found in the United Kingdom (UK), South Africa and Brazil. There is also more recently a New York variant. We are still learning what this will mean to us.
How COVID-19 Spreads
SARS-CoV-2 is spread through respiratory droplets (produced when people cough, sneeze, sing or talk) mainly through close contact from person to person, who are within about 6 feet of each other. There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate or poor ventilation. There was also evidence that an individual who had exposure to COVID-19 with several encounters that totaled 15 minutes over a 24-hour period can be infected.
It is much more common for COVID-19 to be spread through close contact with an infected person than through airborne transmission. The most worrisome realization was people who are infected but do not show symptoms (asymptomatic carriers) can also spread the virus to others.
Initially when we weren’t sure about surfaces, we were wiping everything down including our groceries. It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. This is not the common way that COVID-19 spreads.
Preventing Exposure & Infection
Prevention is the key to our success. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus and to take steps to slow the spread.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around other people. Two-ply cotton masks or surgical masks are the best. Avoid masks with valves, which can potentially be an entry/exit point for the virus. Bandanas and gaiters do not offer adequate protection and also should be avoided. This helps reduce spread by close contact and by airborne transmission.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol. Caution should be used since there were products on the market that contained methanol which is a dangerous alcohol with harmful consequences.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces like entry/exit doorknobs.
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Ideally, properly ventilated indoor spaces bring outdoor air in as much as possible. It is safe to be outdoors in uncrowded spaces.
- Stay at home and isolate from others when you are sick. Quarantining has been an essential part of preventing spread in the community. The CDC has guidelines that have been modified as more information has been available.
Vaccines are the next important step in prevention. The two most familiar are produced by Pfizer and Moderna, both of which are mRNA vaccines with great potential. As of right now, these vaccines are only for those 16 years and older. There are several others in various phases of testing. As we learn more about them, we will update you.
Caring for Yourself During the Pandemic
The pandemic has been and continues to be stressful, especially when we are staying away from our beloved seniors, friends and family. During this time, it’s important to maintain social connections. Be creative with Zoom parties and socially distanced get-togethers. Use good judgement when meeting with friends and family. Exercise and eat healthy. Keeping up the positive endorphins in a properly fueled body will help with your mood. Most importantly, care for your and your children’s mental health. If you need us, please reach out. We are here to help you and your family through this monumental time.