The coronavirus pandemic has now reached Tooele Valley with the news that a local man has tested positive for COVID-19.
The man, who is under 60 years old, reportedly got exposed during contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case while traveling to an affected area, a health official said (See related front-page story). The diagnosis was made here but he is currently being treated at outside of the county.
Meanwhile, health officials are identifying anyone who may have come into contact with the man so they can be monitored for symptoms. Those symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and may appear 2-14 days after exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to Jeff Coombs, executive director of the Tooele County Health Department, the virus was “expected” to appear in the county and the health department is prepared with a system to identify, report and isolate cases.
He stressed for persons to immediately contact their health care provider if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and have traveled to an area with COVID-19, or have had close contact with a known positive case. People with symptoms should also immediately quarantine themselves at home.
To slow the disease from spreading is imperative, which is why officials want citizens to comply with social distancing so health care workers and facilities don’t become overwhelmed. If that occurs, advanced care for seriously ill patients may become strained or worse.
According to Coombs, about 80% of people who get COVID-19 will have moderate to mild symptoms, while about 20% will require advanced care or hospitalization. But those numbers can hopefully be kept down with social distancing.
To accomplish that, citizens have to cooperate. Coombs said it’s critical that families and individuals be “smart and give a second thought to staying out of public, avoiding contact with people, and following advice to limit group activity.”
According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person via exposure to respiratory droplets that are either inhaled or touch the eyes, nose or mouth. Infected persons who are mildly ill are to stay at home, except for medical care, and not to visit public areas or use public transportation. Those who are worse are to seek immediate medical help.
Everyone is also urged to use good hygiene. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after being in a public place, or after blowing the nose, coughing or sneezing. Also, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Furthermore, disinfect daily frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
The message is clear: social distancing and hygiene are essential to help prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and to help prevent vulnerable citizens with chronic health conditions from becoming ill and possibly dying. Given the situation, such diligence is the ultimate act of kindness. Citizens are urged to comply and not take this emergency lightly.
For more comprehensive information about COVID-19, see the county health department’s website at tooelehealth.org or the CDC’s website at cdc.org.