Midway Through 2020 the Question Remains—How Do We Live With COVID-19?
The U.S. was spared the worst of the previous pandemics, and we were not prepared for this one. The rapidly spreading virus has had a tremendous impact on all aspects of our lives from the way young children are schooled to how senior care facilities are managed. And nothing in recent history has had such an impact on the economy.
We are tired of it all. But that won’t make it go away. So with what we’ve learned so far, just what is the best way to deal with living during COVID-19?
SARS-CoV-2 Is Still Not Well Understood
It can be frustrating when instructions for how to stay safe change, but this virus, SARS-CoV-2 is new and unique. Scientists are still working to get certainty on how it is transmitted and why it affects different populations so differently.
Originally, the virus was reported to have severe effects, including death, mainly for the elderly and those with serious health conditions. Many younger people survived the virus with mild to serious flu symptoms, which may have given us a false sense of security.
Young adults are increasingly becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. That statistic points out not only that we may be becoming too casual about the virus, but also that we still have much to learn about it.
When the number of US cases began to rapidly rise, states issued stay at home orders. The resulting reduction in exposure to other people seems to have greatly slowed the spread, but also put so much suppression on the economy that state leaders started relaxing the rules. While the government is trying to get the economy back in order, the virus has started spreading rapidly again.
Slowing the Spread
What is understood is that the main pathway for contagion is through respiratory droplets expelled when an infected person sneezes, coughs, talks, etc. Physical barriers from face masks to plexiglass shields are being implemented as a way to stop the flow from one person to another.
Social distancing (physical distancing) maintaining six feet of space between people is another key tactic that is being used for the same reason. Staying away from others is not natural in our culture, and is especially difficult in crowded cities that rely heavily on mass transit, but measures are being put in place to help remind people to make the effort and to make it more feasible to do so.
While it isn’t mandatory to stay home in most states now, it is still recommended as much as possible.
Returning to Work
Workplace safety has been one of the key areas of focus for getting the economy on track while controlling the spread of coronavirus. Retail stores, banks, and other institutions where employees interact with the public have installed shields between employees and customers.
The number of employees allowed to work from home has greatly increased, but some jobs need to be performed in the workplace and many people prefer to be in the office, at least part of the time, to facilitate collaboration, training, etc.
Like public spaces, offices are being redesigned to increase space between coworkers or provide physical barriers between them. Air quality and improved ventilation are also being studied to minimize the potential for infection from suspended aerosols.
Employers should also be increasing sanitation by having office cleaning include disinfection, providing hands-free soap dispensers, disinfecting wipes, etc.
Masks and gloves aren’t always feasible but should be made available and/or required in situations involving close contact, like hair styling and manicures.
Best Practices for Now
Because there is so much still to be learned about COVID-19, there are no perfect solutions other than complete social isolation, which isn’t feasible for most people. No one wants to be isolated at home or wear a mask whenever they leave the house, but the best research we have to date indicates that these steps are still important.
Mask use is controversial, but the argument against them isn’t that they won’t help control the spread of the coronavirus. Nay-sayers argue that they are unhealthy because of re-breathing exhaled air or complain about their freedom being violated by being told what to do. Neither of these is supported by the best physical or social science we have, and since expelled droplets are the proven common pathway for the virus to spread, masks should be worn when we are outside our homes and close to others.
In the US, we are fortunate to have access to high-quality health care, particularly during this pandemic. Medcare MSO is proud to provide medical billing services and revenue cycle management to these facilities during such a trying time for everyone. If you have any kind of medical practice or lab, give us a call at 800-640-6409 to find out how we can make your business run a lot smoother while increasing your revenue.