Guest Column: COVID-19 facts and views

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By Wally Pearce, Winters Elder Day Council
Special to the Express

COVID-19 transmits from person to person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These minute airborne droplets land in the mouths or noses of nearby people and are inhaled into the lungs.

The first COVID-19 laboratory-confirmed case in the United States was on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 and reported to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC-P) on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. To-date; nearly 268,000 Americans have died, and more that 13 million virus cases are confirmed. 

Then on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, COVID-19 crept unseen into a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania nursing home; and, 18 people died after coronavirus hit them with a hushed shockwave. There’re no words to describe what COVID-19 has brought to America, and throughout this pandemic, some communities have successfully kept COVID-19 at bay. But, once the infection takes hold, it spreads like a repugnant wildfire.  

Still, some people continue to cut corners with their health and safety, including the well-being and protection of others near them, and walk-around with exposed nostrils, masks under their chins, no face protection at all; and when questioned, some reply that they just can’t be 100 percent safe all the time.

COVID-19 cases are raging again in California while public health experts and doctors work hard to convince people that this holiday season is a dangerous time. What’s driving the fastest spike in COVID-19 cases yet are social gatherings of various sizes, especially indoor crowds – like inside dinners, bars, spending time with families, couples who believe they’re safe, neighborhood game nights, even carpools.

Public health experts worry that far too many people are discounting the real COVID-19 risks – where physical closeness and limited air flow greatly enhances virus transmission. People even have a false idea that the virus is not that big a deal, while others are bored and want to move on. But, the rate of viral infections is worse now than in March 2020. 

If people don’t change their behavior, more people will be infected, get sick, and even die. With the 2020 holiday season here, CDC-P issued a strong warning that people should avoid air travel. California has even dispensed a stay-at-home order for various counties.

Sacramento County reports that nearly 60 percent of COVID-19 cases are among people age 18-49, and the largest age group is 20-29 years old. Young people are getting infected and are spreading the virus. Although young adults tend to not get as sick, and some may not show symptoms, they do go out into the community and spread transmission.

The rate of infection in California has doubled in the prior two weeks. Skyrocketing infection rate means two things: First, people have let down their guards; and second, coronavirus has spread through the general population. It’s difficult to get people to understand and appreciate the risk. Plus, many people assume it’s safe to gather with people they know and love. But the results are clear, people do transmit COVID-19 to the one’s they know and love. 

Some people think because they haven’t seen a friend or family members in months, they’ll just drop by for a visit. Complications like that are medically impactive and the upsurge of higher infection rates confirm it. 

If people don’t curtail their unnecessary activities, exercise established personal protective equipment (PPE) measures, and follow proven advice of health care professionals, communities can expect an even greater upsurge around the Christmas holidays. 

On average, most people that have been exposed to COVID-19 carriers, show signs of being positive by day 12, with some showing positive signs by day 14. Some who get infected can spread the virus to others two to three days before symptoms start and are most contagious one to two days before they feel sick. 

If COVID-19 has taught society anything it’s that it’s an equal opportunity virus; attaching its insidious presence to those it connects too. The virus doesn’t discriminate…. it freely threatens communities with equity. 

Some people infected with COVID-19 might experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. But, not everyone. However, older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, compromised immune systems, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Coronavirus is a serious disease that needs controlling even when there’s a proven vaccine.

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