Our region is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases recently. Evidence is showing that trend could continue, and perhaps increase as we head into the winter months. At the same time, several new vaccines are on the horizon, but it will take time to determine vaccine safety and effectiveness. In the meantime, we need to keep those at the highest risk in our community safe during the latest surge.
Conditions that put certain people into the high-risk category for developing more severe COVID-19 illness include people with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Studies show that people with these conditions have a significantly higher risk of serious illness resulting in ICU admission and are at a higher risk of dying from the disease. Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at the highest risk.
Dr. Andres Makarem, an Internist with Altru Health System, talks about the importance of intervention in preventing the spread of COVID-19. “It has been disheartening to see COVID-19 spreading through our communities and institutions. This infection, like many illnesses, is much easier to prevent than to endure or try to treat. Too many have lost their lives, and we fear the number of cases will surpass our ability to care for them. We see that most people who choose not to follow recommendations are usually at low risk of complicated illness, but they seem to forget that what they do will place their family, friends, and other contacts at risk unnecessarily. This is not about violating personal freedom, it’s about taking care of one another.”
People must follow preventative measures by wearing a mask, sanitizing hands and surfaces and social distancing. These are the most effective measures to prevent infection. Also, people should follow a healthy diet and exercise regimen and continue to take any medications prescribed for existing conditions.
Our collaborators in care at Mayo Clinic discuss ways to keep those at the highest risk safe during the latest surge. Watch Dr. Tosh and Dr. Herrmann discuss the importance of following safety measures to prevent infection of COVID-19.
If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, it is important to take steps to avoid becoming sick. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests the following preventative measures to protect yourself and others.
- Stay home when possible: Order groceries or food for delivery to avoid extra trips to stores.
- Wash your hands often: Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a mask to protect each other: Masks should cover the nose and mouth.
- Physical distance: Keep space been others (at least 6 feet away).
- Sanitize surfaces: Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Avoid travel: Avoid traveling and attending any gatherings.
- Monitor your health daily: Call your healthcare provider or the COVID-19 hotline if you have concerns or develop symptoms of COVID-19.
The flu is also something those with other health conditions should take seriously. Since many of the COVID-19 symptoms are similar to the common cold or flu, experts recommend everyone ages six months or older should get the flu vaccine this season.
Prevention is important for everyone to focus on, not just for those at high-risk. By everyone following these simple measures to prevent infection, we can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep those at the highest risk safe during the latest climb in cases.
“We know everyone wants things to go back to normal, we do as well, and we see that happening in the not-so-distant future. Until then, we should do everything we can to protect the people around us,” says Dr. Makarem. “Wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing are a small sacrifice if it can save a life.”
For more information and the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit altru.org/coronavirus.
Please note that due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines and recommendations included in this blog may change over time and could vary from the original date of publication. For the latest news and updates related to COVID-19, please visit altru.org.
Some of the content of this blog is courtesy of Mayo Clinic, the No. 1 hospital in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report. Altru Health System is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. This relationship provides us with access to information, knowledge, and expertise from Mayo Clinic.