A lot of people are thinking about how they can protect their families and themselves from COVID-19.
Hearing from the President and White House taskforce provided alarming projections on the impact of COVID-19 in America over the next few weeks. They used several sources for their projection, but the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) site is a primary resource.
The projections are scary.
Between 90,000 to 250,000 deaths in the upcoming months. Mismatches exist between sick people and the needed supplies, like ventilators, and people to care for them.
If you look at this website, projections for West Virginia include deaths in our state that could reach 500 citizens.
However, websites and prediction models like these continuously update with new information that is constantly changing.
In West Virginia, our data and our model is improving.
This model will continue to advance as we improve the consistency of social distancing to six feet, stay in our homes, wash our hands, avoid putting our hands to our face, cover our coughs and sneezes and stay away from others if sick.
By following these rules, we can reduce the rate of spread of the virus. By reducing person-to-person contact. By reducing the lifeblood of the virus.
By breaking the chain of person-to-person spread of the virus.
Many large metropolitan areas will see surges in sick patients that will greatly stretch medical care capacity. This is from close person-to-person contact in these large population centers that allow the logarithmic spread of the virus.
Recent information from Iceland shows that in their population screening study, 1% of their population is infected and 50% of these infected persons have no symptoms.
This is a key finding, as it tells us that people are spreading the virus with no symptoms. In Iceland. In America. In West Virginia.
In addition to those that lack symptoms, others can have limited symptoms such as having only loss of smell.
Thus, are there any other things we should do to protect ourselves and families?
Should we wear masks?
Masks likely help with viral spread by two important functions. One, if people infected with the virus wear a mouth cover (mask, bandana, scarf), droplet transmission of the virus by that person is likely reduced. This is why six feet of social distancing is so important. This distance protects you from droplet spread in the air. Second, masks or face covers help keep us from touching our mouth and noses, thereby introducing the virus into our bodies. This is a critical thing that is under your control to break the chain of viral infection.
In addition, simply wash your hands with soap and water or use sanitizer with 70%+ alcohol content, frequently, when you are outside your home and touching things, having new materials delivered to you or before you pick up anything with your hands to bring to your mouth, nose or eyes.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or with hand sanitizer. Get between your fingers and thumbs and around your wrists.
If you want to wear a mask, wear one that is not medical grade. A bandana or scarf will also reduce transmission of droplets and remind you not to touch your mouth, nose or eyes with your hands.
By keeping your hands away from your face and social distancing, we can stop the virus from entering our bodies. This stops the spread of the virus. This breaks the chain of the compounding effect of uninterrupted viral transmission and protects each person and their family.
By flattening the curve, we also protect healthcare workers.
If we continue to do all in our power to keep ourselves healthy and safe, we do the same for our families, for our communities and for our healthcare workers.
Be proud of yourselves West Virginia - just don’t be complacent.
Be diligent. Be vigilant.
Don’t bring your hands to your face, mouth, nose or eyes.
Wash your hands.
It is time to be strong and to support each other in our resolve to be a beacon for our country.
Break the chain.