The following is an informational letter from Clinton County Health Officer Dr. Steve Tharp regarding the latest on COVID-19.
We are all asking “What is coming next?” as Covid seems to be dominating our lives. We are now experiencing the worst times of this pandemic as it continues to worsen. The good news is that a vaccine is nearly ready with the promise of some permanent control. However, we must once again adjust our lives to minimize the loss of life and ongoing injury to ourselves and those around us. Each month that passes gives us more insight into what works and what doesn’t. Here are my recommendations:
- Our most effective tool to date has been wearing facemasks. When they are worn properly (mask to skin contact all around the mouth, face and nose) they prevent the spread of Covid by 80%. They must be worn to be effective. They protect both the user and those around him or her. My Recommendation: Do your best to wear a mask all the time you are not in your home and when there are people in your home that do not sleep there.
- Keep your distance. Six feet is not a magic number, it is a minimum guideline. When you are in a room with other people, stay as far apart as possible and still accomplish the task for which you are there. The farther apart you stay, the less likely you are to become infected.
- Avoid crowds. People carry the Covid virus. The more people there are near you, the more likely you are to catch Covid, especially if they are not wearing masks! If you go to a store and people are not wearing masks, go somewhere else. Shop at low volume times, or, better yet, use curbside pickup or delivery services and avoid the crowds!
- Continue to keep your hands clean and avoid touching your face. Soap and water or hand sanitizer work equally well. Many of us have been concerned about surface contamination on objects. The vast majority of surface contamination is transmitted by your hands, so keeping hands clean is often the best common point of control.
- Please! Please! Please! Stay home if you are sick! Many people with Covid only exhibit mild symptoms similar to allergies or a cold. If you develop symptoms of Covid, you should isolate at home for 10 days minimum. After 10 days, if your symptoms are much better and you have had a normal temperature for at least 24 hours, you may return to normal activity on Day 11. If you have a close contact with someone who has symptoms or a positive test, you should self-quarantine for 14 days from the last day of exposure. If you have questions, please call the Clinton County Health Department at 765-659-6385.
- If you have symptoms, get a Covid test. The tests are done with no out of pocket expense to patients. Results are usually available within 4 days. You should remain isolated for 10 days even if the test is negative.
We now have community spread of Covid. This means the virus is in enough places that we cannot determine the path of infection in most cases. What that means for us as individuals is that when people come into our home or business any of them could be spreading Covid. Many people with Covid are infectious for up to 48 hours before they have symptoms. Large gatherings at Thanksgiving may greatly increase our infection numbers. Please consider masks, social distance and even reducing the number of guests you host at Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. The CDC now recommends that all of us celebrate Thanksgiving with only our own households. If we are unable to reduce the spread of infection very soon, even business practices may have to be curtailed, including restaurant and food service restrictions.
The end to this health crisis will come when we have a safe vaccine and most of our residents and visitors are fully vaccinated. I am quite confident that no vaccine will be released until it meets our normal safety and efficacy standards. I expect to begin vaccinations within about 2 months. In the meantime, I ask you all to follow our recommendations. We have lost too many friends already.
Stephen D. Tharp, M.D.
Clinton County Health Officer