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Letter to the Editor: An update on COVID-19
larry anderson
Dr. Larry Anderson of Anderson Family Medicine in Dawsonville. - photo by Jessica Taylor

By Dr. Larry Anderson of Anderson Family Medicine 

Coronavirus is here in Georgia. It is not yet in Dawson County as of this writing, but everything changes every hour. This is a virus that has been imported from China and other countries. Import is a strange word to use with a virus, but that is how it got here. There is nothing we did to cause this virus but we can do things to prevent it.  Most communicable diseases (viruses) can be prevented by social distancing. This means to keep a distance between you and the person with the virus. How do you do that? It is simple. Social Distancing can be from not having physical contact. Shaking hands and doing fist bumps is skin to skin contact. Tapping elbows is better because of a cloth barrier (your sleeve) but nodding your head is best.

The symptoms of coronavirus can be varied. It can a mild, sub-clinical infection. This means your symptoms can be just not feeling well for a day or so and then feeling great the next day.  It can also be a very serious illness requiring medical attention up to and including hospitalization. Think worst flu case ever.

How do you get the coronavirus? Just like getting any other virus, you get it from someone else by personal contact. This is a general statement and I do not want to get into door handles, shopping carts, elevator buttons, etc. at this time.

The most common way of getting the virus is having the virus on your hand and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Your best protection is getting the virus off your hands.  The easiest way is warm water and soap.  Wash the front and back of your hands and between your fingers.  You should do this washing for 20 seconds.  Use the “Happy Birthday” song twice and use my name so you will be reminded you are doing something medical. You can also use a hand sanitizer in a similar manner.  Cover the front and back of your hands and between your fingers using a generous amount of sanitizer.  Let your hands air dry.

The virus spreads by droplets from the respiratory tract.  When you cough or sneeze, the virus becomes airborne. Best practice would be to use a tissue to cough or sneeze into; then dispose of the tissue. Second best would be your sleeve.

Who is at risk for getting the virus?  Everyone. Who is at risk for getting really sick from the virus?  Those who have a respiratory condition. Remember this is a respiratory virus.  Those who have emphysema, COPD, chronic bronchitis, asthma, smokers, etc., are more at risk for a serious illness. What should they do? Practice social distancing and all the other things mentioned above. Use your medications as you are supposed to do. See your physician early if any of your respiratory symptoms changes.

Prevention is easier and safer than treatment.

We also need to pray for our country and the world, for those who have the illness and for our elected government officials and for each other. Leave no stone unturned in stopping this virus. Thanks for reading.