A Message From Trustees – Basic Facts about Covid -19

by Greg Fischer

As chairman of the Trustees and as someone with a Master of Science degree in Microbiology, I was asked to provide some Basic Facts about the Covid – 19 virus.  I realize we are bombarded on a daily basis about this current pandemic.  Some of the information being repeated is scientifically accurate and some of the information is misleading at best.  My hope is everyone in the SHUMC family diligently observes safe practices because this virus is extremely virulent (infectious/contagious) and it knows no boundaries.

  1. COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019.” It is caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2.  The virus first appeared in late 2019 and quickly spread around the world.
  2. The virus that causes COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person.  This usually happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks near other people.  Doctors also think it is possible to get sick if you touch a surface that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.  This is similar to how the flu spreads, but the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads more easily and more aggressively.
  3. A person can be infected, and spread the virus to others, even without having any symptoms.  This is why keeping people at a distance is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the disease to others.
  4. Symptoms usually start 4 or 5 days after a person is infected with the virus.  In some people, it can take up to 2 weeks for symptoms to appear.  Some people never show symptoms at all.
  5. When symptoms do happen, they can include:
    Fever, Cough, Trouble breathing, Feeling tired, Shaking chills, Muscle aches, Headache, Sore throat, Problems with sense of smell or taste. 
  6. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19.  There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting the virus and spreading it.  These steps are a good idea for everyone and they are extra important for people age 65 years or older or those who have other health problems.
  7. To help protect yourself and others:
    • Practice “social distancing.”  It’s most important to avoid contact with people who are sick.  But social distancing also means staying away from all people who do not live in your household.  When you come in close contact with an individual, remember you are also coming in contact with everyone they were in close contact with (the circle of possible infection widens).
    • Avoiding crowds is an important part of social distancing.  But even small gatherings can be risky, so it’s best to stay home as much as you can.  When you do need to go out, such as for food or medicine, try your best to stay at least 6 feet away from other people.  Six (6) feet should be considered a minimum.  Virus particles are spread in a wide arc and can be spread over a significant area depending on the force of the sneeze or cough from an infected person.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water often.  This is especially important after being out in public.  Make sure to rub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, cleaning your wrists, fingernails, and in between your fingers.  Then rinse your hands and dry them with a paper towel you can throw away.
    • If you are not near a sink, you can use a hand sanitizing gel to clean your hands. The gels with at least 60 percent alcohol work the best.  But it is better to wash with soap and water if you can.
    • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose, or eyes.  Anyone who’s tried this knows it’s difficult but try to make a conscious effort.
  8.  When experts recommend staying home, it’s important to take this seriously and follow instructions as best you can.  It’s hard having to change your life and habits, and it’s normal to want things to get back to the way they used to be.  If people stop social distancing too soon, more people will get sick.

I realize none of this information is new to most people; however, it seems few people in St. George are taking this seriously due to the low numbers of infected individuals.  Please be diligent, if not for yourself, for your loved ones.

Greg Fischer