With the confirmation last week of two cases of coronavirus in Fulton County, Health Commissioner Kim Cupp has reiterated the need to practice preventative measures to avoid illness.
“This is a virus we’re learning a lot of information about in a short amount of time. The evidence supports that you can have no symptoms but be a carrier,” she said.
That’s important to remember, Cupp said, because the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate with age. Cases in the United States involve people from under age one to 94 years old. “We hear from people across that spectrum. And what the data is showing us is that it’s at least twice as fast to spread it from person to person than flu,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and state departments of health, the most common symptoms of coronavirus are a fever over 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, coughing, and shortness of breath. Any individual experiencing those symptoms and feeling concerned should contact their health provider.
But the virus can be fickle, exhibiting either no symptoms or mild symptoms in some people while causing life-threatening illness in others. It can be more dangerous in people age 65 and older and those whose immune systems are already compromised by medical conditions.
“But there’s no age group you would say is not susceptible,” Cupp said.
That is why heeding the advice of established health organizations and self-quarantining at home is important to stop the spread of coronavirus, she said, adding, “The virus needs a host, so it’s really that person-to-person contact that we’re concerned with.”
Cupp said each contact a person makes with another could potentially give coronavirus the opportunity to continue. “We’re trying to prevent that virus from passing from person to person,” she said. “If we don’t slow the spread, we could end up with too many people sick at the same time and our hospitals not able provide the necessary care.”
Walking outside is encouraged for physical fitness, as long as the six-foot distance rule is followed, she said. And though trips for food, gas, medical appointments, and other necessities are hard to avoid, “I would just pause and think, ‘Is this trip necessary?’” she added.
Everyone must realize that some people around them are already living with serious medical conditions hospitals won’t have the capacity to treat if they’re overwhelmed with cases of coronavirus, Cupp said. She emphasized, “It’s important that we protect the most susceptible.”
The fear of contracting coronavirus, however, should not persuade an individual to self-medicate as a prevention. “Don’t take what you shouldn’t. Don’t take what may put you at greater risk,” she said. Those who experience symptoms and become concerned should contact their health provider.
Avoiding coronavirus includes taking common sense precautions, Cupp said. Make a habit of sanitizing often-touched and often-used surfaces at home and work, cover coughs and sneezes, practice safe-distance methods, and wash hands with soap for 20 seconds.
Calling COVID-19 “a moving target,” Cupp said the illness must be taken seriously if it’s to be defeated.
“People should do as much as they can, but it comes back to physical separation, good hygiene, and good sanitation,” she said. “People need to realize that the steps they’re being asked to take are helping. They’re making a difference.”
But they should also remember the human factor, Cupp said. “There are other needs that we have. We also have to take care of each other. If you’re challenged on just a regular day, during these days the challenges are even greater.”
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.