Despite our best efforts to control viruses, they are always circulating in our communities.
It is not unusual to see a group of children in the same class at school come down with the same virus or cold one after the other. It is not unusual for people to pass flu and cold germs around in close settings like churches, retail shopping, family gatherings, and business operations. But what is unique about the COVID-19 coronavirus is that because it is a novel virus – or previously unknown – our bodies do not recognize it and have not built up immunity to it like we have to cold and flu viruses.
Everyone practicing social distancing is helping to flatten the curve. By flattening the curve the rate of new cases are spread out over a longer period of time. Flattening of the curve is important because we don’t want to overwhelm the capacity of our healthcare systems – for example, the number of beds, doctors and medical equipment available to help aid sick people.
Health departments constantly watch for cases of communicable disease – diseases that can be passed from person to person. They work with partners regularly to monitor how many people in a community are sick at any given time, how many kids are missing school due to sickness, and what type and quantity of over-the-counter medications are being purchased (such as cold and flu medicine during flu season). They also receive notification from local hospitals and health care providers of confirmed cases of certain diseases, which are defined in Missouri State Statute.
These surveillance activities assure health departments can quickly recognize when diseases enter their community.
If a person who is sick has been out in public, like at a grocery store, it is much harder for public health nurses to complete the contact tracing process and find all of the people who may have been exposed. That is why it is very important that anyone who is sick stay home in their own room, and anyone that has been in close contact (within 6 feet for a period of time) with someone known to be sick quarantine themselves at home and monitor for any symptoms to develop.
We know the sacrifices our community is already making to practice social distancing. You may be saying, “I’ve been staying home for two weeks now, and there still aren’t a lot of cases in my community.”
But we are not out of the woods yet. The coronavirus continues to spread around the U.S. and in Missouri. It may be several more weeks before our lives can return to some kind of normal. Public health nurses are working diligently to slow this spread, but they need your help.
Our whole community needs your help.
For more information, contact us at 417-967-4131 or visit the Texas County Health Department Facebook page or Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website.
TEXAS COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT