That’s what staying home during the corona virus outbreak buys. And that extra time will save lives.
Because in Vermont and across the nation, a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases requiring medical attention threatens to overwhelm hospitals. There won’t be enough care for the critically sick.
When each of us stays home, we will slow down the rate of infection. That, in turn, will slow down the number of high-risk people getting sick at the same time.
“That means we are much more likely to save their life,” said Tim Lahey, MD, an infectious disease expert at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.
Flatten the Curve
If you’ve seen #FlattenTheCurve on social posts, that’s what it means. Stretching out the rate of infection over time so that hospitals can keep up, providing respirators and other critical resources that are a matter of life and death for people at high risk; older members of our community, people with compromised immune systems or other health conditions that make them more susceptible to infections.
But, What If I’m Young and Healthy?
Dr. Lahey points out that, from what we know about COVID-19 so far, younger and healthier people infected with the virus will most likely show mild to moderate symptoms. Some might even be unaware they even have it at all. They might be tempted to go visit just a few friends and why not? They don’t feel sick at all. What’s the harm?
But these same people could still transmit the virus to others, who would then pass it on even more people, soon reaching someone at high-risk. Isolating, staying home, slows down that cycle.
Why Slowing the Contagion is Key
The virus is highly contagious. Nearly everyone will get COVID-19 at some point, Dr. Lahey said. So it’s unlikely that anything will completely stop it, which is why slowing it down is so critical.
Our Call-to-Action as Community Members
The COVID-19 outbreak represents the worst public-health crisis the world has seen in a century, presenting us all with a once-in-a-lifetime call to action. A call that we all have a responsibility to answer.
“You need to save the lives of vulnerable people in your community by staying home,” said Dr. Lahey.
Staying home, frequently cleaning your hands with soap and water or sanitizer, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and other good hygiene measures are all critical to help slow down the spread of COVID-19.
If you must go out, to the grocery store for example, make that trip as short and efficient as possible. Practice social distancing at all times. If the store has disinfecting wipes at the door or hand sanitizer, use them on the way in and on the way out.
And if you feel sick, but your symptoms are mild to moderate and can be treated at home, stay home. Remember that 80 percent of people infected with COVID-19 won’t need medical attention. But it’s critical that you isolate to avoid infecting others. If your symptoms are more serious, if you have trouble breathing or are so sick that you can’t take care of yourself and need help, call your doctor first for guidance.
For more information, visit UVMhealth.org/coronavirus.