We recently spoke with Grant County Health Officer, Dr. David Moore, to get his perspective and professional opinion on the ever-spreading coronavirus, which has now started to impact American citizens in the United States. The coronavirus (or COVID-19) is responsible for the death of 12 Americans now, most of which have been on the west coast, but how worried should we actually be about this new virus?
According to Dr. Moore, there’s no need to panic, but the virus will eventually reach us here in Indiana; he says it’s not a question of “if” it will reach us but simply a matter of “when.”
Dr. Moore explained to us that while the coronavirus in itself is not new, what is spreading across the globe now is a new strain of the virus (a “novel” coronavirus), and because the strain is new, people simply do not have any resistance built up against it. Without that resistance, Dr. Moore says “Most people who are exposed to it are going to be infected.” Once more and more people become infected with this virus, the resistance will start to build, but until then, everyone is vulnerable.
The most vulnerable are people who are already chronically ill or have a diminished immune system. While most people will survive the virus, there will be those who become more severely ill and will require advanced treatment.
For those who are severely ill with the coronavirus, the most troublesome symptoms will be connected to the respiratory system. Those who are being treated on the west coast right now are often requiring mechanical respiratory assistance, but as Dr. Moore assures us, the “vast majority” of people who catch the coronavirus won’t experience symptsoms that rise to that level of severity.
Even though Dr. Moore says the coronavirus is more dangerous and aggressive than the yearly flu, he says treatment for the coronavirus is similar in nature but “more thorough.” He continued by saying the treatment includes supporting the affected person through their symptoms until their immune system manages to fight off the virus and returns to normal.
Even though a majority of people will survive the coronavirus and won’t experience severe illness, a lot of people are still concerned, especially given how contagious the virus has proven to be. Other countries affected by the virus have had to close schools and businesses in an attempt to reduce the number of cases.
Is that something we might have to consider doing here in the United States? Possibly. Dr. Moore says that, while there is no danger to our schools at the moment, he can’t say there won’t be danger in the future. However, he also tells us that the CDC is in contact with the state of Indiana, who is in touch with local schools to keep them informed and to help them prepare for the probable outbreak.
Is there anything we can do to proactively prevent the spread of the coronavirus? Dr. Moore says yes. He reminded us that the most important things to remember are to avoid crowds; avoid excessive hand contact; wash your hands; don’t touch your face without washing your hands first; and to cough into your sleeve, not in your hand.
Again, while there is no reason to panic, Dr. Moore reminds us that the coronavirus is a serious virus, which demands a serious response, but with the right preparation and preventative measures, it doesn’t have to be a disastrous event. As long as we stay informed and stay mindful of our own actions, we can get through this outbreak, just as we’ve gotten through similar outbreaks in the past.