When we began this blog in April, 2020 our mission was to provide informative articles for the general public about the COVID-19 pandemic–information of use to you and your family without political or media spin. Additionally, our mission was to tell the stories of the frontline public health, medical and scientific heroes in this war–a war between the human race and the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
As we approach the end of 2020 we want to salute the hundreds of thousands of frontline healthcare providers who have continued serving America–often without adequate supplies of equipment, medicines, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Their courage, dedication and professionalism deserve the same level of recognition as does the many generations of our frontline military warriors.
Last spring, we created this meme in their honor:
We also salute the frontline healthcare professionals who have lost their lives in this war against the SARS-Cov-2 virus. According to an ongoing study by Kaiser Health News and the Guardian,, more than 3,000 frontline healthcare professionals have died in the line of duty. This number has now exceeded America’s losses on 9/11.
And finally, we want salute the scientists who received the DNA code for the SARS-Cov-2 virus on January 11 and just 56 days later were beginning the first human testing of a vaccine candidate. Within 9 months a vaccine, actually two, were authorized by the FDA for wide spread use–vaccines that provide 94%+ protection. This was the equivalent of America’s moonshot–but this was accomplished in nine months rather than nine years. These vaccines are safe and effective. They will change the course of history.
To better understand this extraordinary scientific achievement, listen to this audio clip from This American Life
Remember last spring when people were wiping down everything from door knobs, kitchen counters, home-delivered groceries and even mail with Clorox wipes? This wasn’t necessarily bad advice, there was just a lot to learn about this novel virus. It was a reasonable assumption at the time. We know that seasonal flu can often be transmitted via door knobs and other common surfaces.
However, many studies have now concluded that the chance of getting a COVID-19 infection from surface contamination–including well-controlled studies of COVID-19 wards in hospitals–is quite small. The best way to protect your family is social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask when in public.
“About 100 million Americans now have the ability to get pop-up notifications from local health authorities when they’ve personally spent time near someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus.”
Depending on where you live, you might be able to get notification if you have been exposed to someone at work, school or another public area–by an app on your smart phone. The information is anonymous–no one is tracking your location, unlike many other apps you may be using for social media. This app isn’t perfect, but could be of great help slowing the spread of COVID, particularly when more than 40% of people spreading the disease do so when not showing any symptoms.
“Exposure alerts worked for the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam. He and the first lady tested positive for the coronavirus in September, and because they had it working on their phones, staff members exposed to them got notified. And they’re picking up steam: In its first few weeks, Colorado’s system was activated by a million residents, or 17 percent of its population.”
This is the best article I have read about the COVID-19 vaccines. Two of the vaccines that have completed Phase III trials will soon become available to those in the top priority groups–frontline healthcare workers and first responders, plus those who are at higher risk because of their age; and those who have underlying conditions that increase their risk for severe disease. This superb article explains how the vaccines are being produced, tested, how they actually protect against the disease and many other key issues.
Last spring, many of the folks living in rural America watched in horror as the pandemic raced through major urban areas–but thought they would be safe. That has now changed. Kathryn Jones tells her story in Texas Monthly.
“The pandemic felt so far away out here. My husband and I live eight miles south of Glen Rose—the nearest town of any size—barely over the Somervell-Bosque county line. Our house sits a mile and a half off Texas Highway 144, past two ranch gates and cattle guards, and at the end of a winding, up-and-down gravel road that leads to a ridgetop. There are no other houses in sight, just a wide western view of layered blue mesas.”
Kathryn and her husband followed the rules–even though many in her sparsely populated county did not. Katheryn rarely went to town, but when she did, she wore a mask and vinyl gloves at the grocery store and for a trip to the courthouse to vote. After a week of rationalizing the telltale symptoms (low fever, dull headache, sudden loss of smell and taste) she went in to the local hospital to be tested. She was positive.
Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation requiring Iowans over the age of 2 to wear masks in indoor public spaces starting Tuesday. “If Iowans don’t buy into this, we’ll lose,” she said. “Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our health care system will fail.”
The concept of herd immunity can be confusing–particularly with the wide variety of “opinions” of TV talking heads. However, this article by Dr Gigi Kwik Gronvall and Rachel West provides a clear explanation of the facts–without political spin. This is what you need to know to protect your family.
Flu season will soon begin, so it is important that all members of your family (6 months of age and older) get their flu shot within the next few weeks. Flu shots are most important for older adults since the age group generally accounts for 70% to 85% of flu-related deaths and 50% to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations each flu season.
Despite the “internet myths” you will not get the flu from the vaccine. Some people get a sore arm for a day or so, but that is about the only down side. The up sides are many, including avoiding hospitalization or death for you and your loved ones.
For more information on flu shots for the elderly members of your family, read this article.
Within the next few months, we expect to have one or more vaccines for COVID-19. Frontline medical personnel, first responders and the elderly (over 65) are at greatest risk from this disease. CDC states that 8 of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the US have been people 65 years of age or older. We need to focus efforts on protecting those people at the highest risk.