Understanding community spread of COVID


ELKINS — As additional cases of the coronavirus are identified in Randolph County, Davis Medical Center is receiving questions about virus spread in the community.  Davis Health System Chief Medical Officer Catherine Chua, DO, FAAFP, FMNM, CPE, explains community spread and steps residents can take to help minimize it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes “community spread” as those people who have been infected with the virus in an area, including those who aren’t sure how or where they became infected.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more widespread coronavirus activity reach our rural areas.  How much the disease spreads may be the result of how seriously our community leaders and citizens follow safety guidelines,” said Chua. “Because the infection rate is high, social distancing and other preventive measures are extremely important.”

Randolph County saw infection rates jump from a single-digit to over 120 confirmed cases in less than 14 days which highlights how a low-case area can quickly become a viral epicenter.

“Coronavirus is highly contagious, and infected people can be asymptomatic, which means they are feeling or displaying no symptoms.  Right now, there could be asymptomatic people, wandering about, unknowingly spreading the virus to others,” said Chua.

“Consider this, let’s say a person with COVID self-quarantines at home, not interacting with anyone.  The virus does not transmit to one, two or three other people.  And those one, two or three persons who did not contract the virus, now cannot affect an additional three, six or nine people.  Social distancing is still the best tool we have to stop the rapid spread of Covid.”

When maintaining a 6-foot distance from others is difficult, the CDC recommends that people wear face coverings in public places.

“Sneezing, coughing, speaking and singing can produce particles that can travel up to 6 feet and land on other people or surfaces.  If the particles reach the eyes, nose or mouth, or is inhaled into the lungs, the virus can transmit,” added Chua.  “Face masks help protect other people in case you are infected.”

“The Covid-19 situation is changing rapidly, and it could be months, probably longer, before we have an effective vaccine or treatment.  The best tools against the spread are those we already know.  Whether you are a citizen, business-owner, or community leader, I urge you to set a good example by following prevention guidelines,” urged Chua. “We could be facing a public health crisis and these measures are vital to preserve our healthcare resources and reduce preventable deaths.”

In the event of a community outbreak, the CDC offers the following suggestions to prepare and protect yourself:

  • Stay informed about local Covid-19 situation.
  • Continue practicing hand hygiene, social distancing, face coverings and frequent cleaning of your home or workplace.
  • Let your employer know as soon as possible if your work schedule must change due to confirmed or suspected Covid in your household.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends especially if you, or they, have a chronic medical condition and/or live alone.

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