We Aren't Out of the Woods Yet
The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was identified in Washington by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on January 20, 2020. Many Coloradans began watching the news each day, wondering when the virus would hit our state. It happened, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Colorado was announced on March 5, 2020. As the numbers climbed higher and infected people began to overwhelm local hospitals and ICU beds, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced a statewide stay-at-home order that began on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
As the numbers climbed higher and infected people began to overwhelm local hospitals and ICU beds, Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced a statewide stay-at-home order that began on Thursday, March 26, 2020. For many of us, the world suddenly shifted; we weren't allowed to go into our jobs, services like barbershops and our favorite restaurants closed, grocery stores and big-box stores were suddenly out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. The evening news reports were filled with illness and death counts. We all watched as our families and neighbors went into isolation. We lost the ability to have physical contact with our family, socialize with our friends, attend religious services, and children finished their school year at home. Depression set in for many of us, and our world became a lonely place. We filled our hours with NetFlix, TV re-runs, and news updates. We figured out how we were going to work from home while we became our children's teachers. We cleaned and organized, learned new recipes, caught up with friends on social media, cleaned and organized some more. We began to wonder what we were going to do the following week!
As the days got warmer and our cabin fever became almost intolerable, Governor Polis signed the Safer At Home order on June 1, 2020. We emerged slowly, testing the waters of the local grocery store, hiking, riding our bikes and even stopping into our favorite restaurants and getting our haircut at the neighborhood salon. Amazingly, a few high schools held scaled-down graduations to celebrate the accomplishments of their seniors. Many of us began to travel and reconnect with family and friends. It was glorious! Nearly everywhere you went, there was evidence that people were taking the virus seriously. There were face mask mandates, hand sanitizer at store entrances, shopping carts sprayed with disinfectant, people being counted as they entered and exited Walmart or Target, and sanitizing was a top priority for everything from door handles to seats on RTD busses and trains.
We are almost nine months into the US version of the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are understandably exhausted. National politics and civil unrest have gained our attention, and COVID-19 has become less of a focus for each of us. But we are not out of the woods yet!
Numbers of people infected with the virus continue to surge nationally and in Colorado. Cold and flu season is sneaking up on us, as PPE is becoming challenging to get again. Local businesses are not as consistent with cleaning, sanitizing, or limiting the numbers of patrons allowed inside. Demonstrations and public gatherings have become commonplace. The public has pushed back against mask mandates and social distancing guidelines. Even in our daily lives, some have loosened practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding situations that could expose COVID-19. Now is not the time to let our guard down.
We need to continue our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses that weaken our immune system. Other diseases put us at greater risk for a worse outcome if we get infected with this Coronavirus. Continue wearing a mask when out in public, social distancing, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer is not enough. Get a flu shot this season and any other vaccine you are due for, such as shingles or pneumonia. Maintain your wellness by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. Reach out to friends, family, patients, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of to ask them to do the same. If we stay healthy, we protect them, and if they stay healthy, they are protecting us. If you are sick, stay home. If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are having symptoms such as fever, body aches, or difficulty breathing, please get screened for the virus.
Until there is a COVID-19 cure or vaccine, it is a community effort to help slow its spread. Take care of yourself, and that will help to take care of everyone else.
Karen Hoffman, ANP-BC
Director of Primary Care
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