–by Dr. Alan Laird, Chief Medical Officer at Orange City Area Health System
Not surprisingly, the situation with this new illness continues to evolve. We are learning new things about this agent. The situation in the USA continues to change and more cases are expected. As of 3/2/2020, the risk in Iowa is low. Let me recommend some tools that may be helpful.
First, do not believe everything you hear on the TV or read on the internet. As my Dad used to say, “Consider the source.” The Iowa Department of Public Health has been a good source of information. They have up-to-date information on what is happening with coronavirus (now called COVID-19) in Iowa as well as resources about how to prepare in case things get worse. There are resources there for businesses, health care agencies, schools, etc. Their website (idph.iowa.gov) has easy to follow links – check it out.
Second, the risk for influenza remains higher in Iowa than for the new virus. And influenza can be deadly too. Protecting yourself from COVID-19 (should it arrive here), will be similar to protecting yourself from the flu. Wash your hands. Cover your coughs or sneezes (forearm or elbow is best). Stay home if you are ill.
If you come to the hospital or one of our clinics, you will be asked about your illness, travel, and exposure to this new virus. It seems like medical people have lots of forms and questions. We do. Please understand we are doing this to try to help everyone the best way we can. As has been our practice throughout this flu season, we ask you to please use one of our masks (available at the door or reception desks) if you have cold or flu symptoms. Please put one on for those around you. It doesn’t mean you are inferior to others, it means you care about them and want to limit any chances of sharing your illness. And if we are wearing masks, it is not because we think less of you, but because we have families we want to keep healthy too.
If you think you may have been exposed to this new coronavirus (COVID-19), we ask that you call us before you come to the hospital or clinic. There may be some special instructions we need to go over with you prior to your arrival.
In closing let me restate that the risk remains low in Iowa. But it is a good idea to discuss with your family what you would need to do if you were ill and needed groceries, or your daycare provider became ill, or if you are sick and can’t work for several days. These are good topics to think about not just because of coronavirus, but for influenza or any of life’s curveballs that come our way.
Wishing you good health and an early spring.