The Journal | Top Stories | Photo Collections | News | Subscriptions | Contact Us
Local doctor gives advice and hopes
residents will help reduce virus impact

Dear Journal readers,
   I wanted to ask you to spend a little more time today doing what you probably have been doing for the last week or so, think about the novel coronavirus and the illness that it is now causing throughout the world and here in the United States.
   Our governmental leaders have announced State and National emergencies related to this rapidly spreading disease. This should help us all understand the urgency of what our community will be facing for the foreseeable future. These steps are only taken when there is a known significant threat and the situation that we find ourselves in is one of those instances. We are surrounded daily by social media and traditional media sources that can leave our heads spinning about what is true and what is not true, what we should fear and what we should not fear and how we should

respond to the world rapidly changing around us. 
   One thing that I find particularly helpful in this situation is the realization that we are all in the same boat together. No one has had lived experience with this before; no one has been to this rodeo before. If you feel overwhelmed by the information and the public reaction to the decisive measures that are being taken to try to slow this down, you are in no way alone. We are all doing this for the first time. I open in this way to reassure that though it may be frustrating and even scary to face these new challenges to life, we are all going down this path together.
   Today, there are things that we know will be helpful in dealing with this public health threat.  There are things we hope will become available in time but about which we are currently uncertain. 
   Let's start with the uncertainty and end on a positive note. This is a serious threat to the security of our community because there is currently no treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine for COVID-19. We have become accustomed to the protection that vaccines provide our communities from viral illnesses such as mumps, measles, polio, chicken pox and influenza. Because we know that vaccines protect us from viral illness, many in the general public have hoped for a rapid vaccine to stop this illness from continuing to grow in our communities. Vaccines take many months or years to develop and, for now, COVID-19 is outrunning our best vaccine development strategies. Treatment is also not available at this time and will likely not become available before the spike in cases that will threaten the healthcare systems that provide care for everyone from cancer patients to new mothers having babies. We can change this course with the things that we know are certain about battling this viral illness.
What we are certain we can do to help in this battle
   1. Participate in social distancing - avoid any group of 10 people or more.  This means family gatherings, parties, clubs, restaurants, and even church. I know that last one is especially hard for many of us. This will not cure the virus but is will slow down transmission from person to person and give our healthcare systems throughout the nation time to prepare to take care of not only COVID-19 patients but everyone else who needs hospital services as well. Slowing this down will give your neighbors or even yourself a better chance of surviving if you get ill. I know this is very hard especially thinking of childcare decisions and work, but this is an emergency and when there is no cure, social distancing is the strongest tool we have to save lives.
   2. Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands – any kind of soap and water will work as long as you wash for at least 20 seconds. That's the time is takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Alcohol gel hand sanitizer is good as well, but not necessarily better than soap and water. Use it if you have it, but still wash your hands. You have to scrub with hand sanitizer for two rounds of Happy Birthday as well, so make sure you are singing while you wash your hands. Ask everyone that comes into your home to wash their hands as soon as they come into the home. Do it yourself when you arrive home as well. We are truly our brothers' keepers here. Ask and insist that they do it. If it becomes expected, it won't seem like a bother.
   3. Stay home when you are sick – the Georgia Department of Health describes cough, sneezing, runny nose, fever, and shortness of breath as the symptoms of this condition. I know in the middle of South Georgia pollen season we all feel like we are sneezing, coughing, and have a runny nose. Please be respectful of your friends and family and avoid leaving home if you feel any of these symptoms. If you are sick, call your healthcare provider before coming into the office, clinic, or emergency room.  You may pass on an infection to the staff which will then have to be quarantined or you may be taking limited resources from a friend or loved one who is in desperate need of care.  Use your common sense.  If you feel unwell and feel that you are getting worse, call your healthcare provider.  We are all working diligently to address patient needs in a way that keeps you and the community safe.
   4. Use a reliable source of information – Facebook is great for keeping up with old friends, but is not particularly good at fighting a global viral pandemic. Smartphones and the internet are available to almost everyone. Look at the CDC and Georgia Department of Health websites for information on what you can do to keep your family and community safe. We are going to be asked to do things a little differently for the foreseeable future. This will mean that jobs, schools, vacations, family reunions, graduation parties, Easter dinner, etc. will be different than what we were planning on.
   So, let's do the things that we know are going to help with this today, things that we can do that are certain to help us make it through this with as little disruption and loss of life as possible. This particular national emergency is going to mean that we all are going to have to sacrifice business as usual for something different to protect ourselves, families and neighbors.  There is no doubt in my mind that together, we can do this. 
   Communicate with those who depend on you, care for your neighbors and they will care for you.  Stay safe and well.
All the best,
Dan Singleton, MD
Buena Vista, GA