Addressing COVID-19


Martin Slavoljubovski / Pixabay

Washing your hands is the most effective way to prevent the spread of diseases.

Michael Dunn, Publisher


If you have had a conversation with anyone in the past month or so, COVID-19, formerly known as the coronavirus, has most likely been discussed. That is for good reason as the virus has spread to more than 100 countries and territories throughout the world. However, what is this virus and how can you be prepared? That is what this article intends to find out.


What is COVID-19?


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “coronavirus disease 2019”, abbreviated as COVID-19, and formerly known as just “coronavirus” is a type of disease caused by a betacoronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, China, but has spread to many different countries all over the world. The virus is called “SARS-CoV-2” while the disease it causes is called COVID-19. The virus is similar to the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome, 2012) and SARS-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome, 2003) coronaviruses due to all of their origins in bats.


The genetic sequences tested from U.S. patients are very similar to those first detected in Chinese patients, which suggests that the virus emergence happened recently from an animal reservoir. Exposure to the large seafood and live animal markets in or around Wuhan, China is linked to the initial spread of the virus, but later instances of person-to-person spread became apparent as time progressed (CDC).


How severe is COVID-19?


It is hard to determine the entire clinical picture of COVID-19 at this early stage of the pandemic response, but reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (with some not having any symptoms at all) to severe symptoms, including death.


Information so far suggests that it is a mild illness, but there is a report out of China that suggests severe illness occurs in 16% of patients. Older patients and people of all ages with underlying health conditions (diabetes, heart and lung disease) are at a higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 illness (CDC).


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?


According to the CDC, there are a few symptoms that may appear after 2 to 14 days after exposure, and these include:


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

However, there are some emergency warning signs for COVID-19 and these include, but not limited to:


  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face


The CDC also recommends contacting your medical provider if you experience any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.


How does the virus spread?


According to the CDC, the virus is thought to be spread mainly from person-to-person.


It can be transferred by coming in close contact with someone who has it (around 6 feet). It can also be transferred through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.


How has this affected our community?


COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our community, country, and world in the last month.


Senior Trip Rescheduled


Due to vendors in New York City shutting down to prevent the spread in the city, the FHS senior trip has been postponed to around May 29th, depending on if the vendors can reschedule for that date and also if the spread of the outbreak has been reduced.


Out-of-State Field Trips Cancelled (at the moment)


All out-of-state field trips have been put on hold until the situation improves by the Escambia County Board of Education.


Alabama Governor Kay Ivey Closes Public Schools Statewide


Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has decided to close all Alabama public schools starting at the end of school hours on Wednesday, March 18th, to prevent the spread of the virus in Alabama. This comes after the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Alabama on March 13th. Students will be out of school until Monday, April 6th, when they will return (FOX 10).


Fortunately, this will not affect our county as much as others as we have spring break for one of those weeks. Which means that our schools will effectively be closed for 7 school days. State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey stated that students will not be required to make up the lost days.



How can I help prevent COVID-19 from spreading?


There are many ways that you can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. One way as the CDC recommends is to follow several safety guidelines.


How to Protect Yourself:


Clean Yourself Often


Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have coughed, sneezed, or came out of a public place.


Avoid Close Contact


Avoid getting in close contact with people who are sick and also others if you know that the virus is spreading through your community.


How to Protect Others:


Stay Home If You Are Sick


Staying home when you are sick can help prevent others from catching it as well. An exception to this rule would be if you are in need of medical attention. It is recommended to call your medical provider and ask for their advice before showing up at the medical facility for testing. This will help you avoid spreading the illness while also preventing the risk of you getting the illness if you do not have the virus.


Wear A Facemask If Sick


Wearing a facemask is recommended if you are sick or are caring for a sick person that is unable to wear a facemask. However, it is not recommended to wear a facemask if you do not meet those conditions as it takes away supply from medical professionals.


There are many other tips that the CDC recommends, so I would recommend checking out their prevention tips here.


How does Alabama have such a low number of cases so far?


Alabama has a low number of cases compared to other states is most likely due to the prior guidelines for getting tested. These guidelines from the Alabama Department of Public Health restricted testing to people who knew that they were within 6 feet of a confirmed sick person, were 65 and older, or had underlying health conditions.


However, they have now dropped that requirement and are allowing tests for any person that a physician determines is eligible for testing. As I mentioned earlier, it is best to contact your medical provider before traveling to a medical facility.


How can I help our community during this emergency?


There are several ways that you can help during this emergency:


For one, only buy enough essential goods that are necessary. Do not stockpile toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, etc. It is not necessary to do that, and doing so will allow the virus to spread. This is because a shortage of health goods will prevent others from being able to disinfect surfaces, allowing the virus to persist.


Another way that you can help your community is by offering to go to the store for someone who is considered a high risk of experiencing serious symptoms or a person that is in self quarantine. This will help prevent the spread of the virus and help keep others safe. Make sure to follow all health guidelines while helping to prevent exposure to yourself as well.


If you have extra health goods such as disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, etc. that you can spare, consider donating them to your local hospital or school. This will allow these places to continue operating without worrying about shortages of supplies.


You could also donate money to schools or local food banks as well. Schools can use the money to buy the health goods mentioned above, while food banks need money, not food, to be able to support people in our community that can not afford to buy food due to lost wages in self quarantine. Donating food to food banks is not recommended as food banks have to have people sort through canned goods, which results in a lot of goods being thrown out due to bad dates, unhealthy food, and other factors. By donating money, you are allowing food banks to buy directly from farmers who are able to provide more value and assist more people in communities.


Final Thoughts


This new coronavirus, COVID-19, can seem daunting to deal with, but if we can perform preventive measures, we can reduce the spread of the virus to limit its impact. By following preventive measures and regularly checking with public health organization sources, people can remain informed and prepared for the future. Do not panic about the outbreak and perform actions that you would not normally do, such as stockpiling toilet paper, but do not become complacent and dismiss the disease as impossible to happen to you. With your help, we can do something to help improve the current situation and move on from this emergency as a better community, nation, and world.



CDC’s “COVID-19” Section

“Alabama public schools to close statewide close of business Wednesday; 2nd confirmed case”, FOX 10

Alabama Department of Public Health Testing Information