• November 27, 2020

CATES: COVID is still with us - Odessa American: Health

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CATES: COVID is still with us

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Posted: Monday, November 16, 2020 5:30 am

I haven’t written about COVID for a while, but with everything going on in our community right now I just feel like I needed to talk about it again.

COVID is such a weird disease. You have people who have no symptoms at all — and they can be of all ages, though most of the people who have no symptoms are under 30. You have people with no risk factors who die, and you have people with every risk factor there is have minimal symptoms, and there just doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason why some people get so incredibly sick and die, and some people don’t.

There is so much we just don’t know about COVID. We know a huge amount more than we did six months ago, but we really haven’t even scratched the surface on this disease. What I can tell you for sure is that COVID is not the flu. I have had two friends locally and an uncle who lives in another state die from COVID now.

I’ve never had a friend of a family member die from the flu before. Every hospital in this community is seeing more patients and more deaths than any flu season we have seen in our lifetime. COVID is real and COVID is killing people.

Today, according to the Ector County Health Department website, there are 1,677 active cases of COVID in this community as I write this. One thing I want you to think about is that those are known cases — people who have been tested and come back positive. I know several people now who have had someone they live with get sick, get tested for COVID, come back positive, then they get sick, and they don’t bother to get tested.

They already feel like they know its COVID — they have had a known exposure and they have the symptoms — those people will not show up in the numbers, asymptomatic people who never get tested won’t show up in the numbers either.

Another thing to think about with that number is active case numbers are delayed. The person who is sick decides they need to get tested; they get to a testing center, which with the demand now can take a couple of days to even get tested; they get the test results which can take up to several more days; and then the health department is notified. So that 1,677 is a low estimate of the people who came down with symptoms several days ago. Today there are likely many more people who have COVID than the health department has on record for those reasons.

One-hundred-and-twenty-five Ector County residents have died of COVID as of today. One-hundred-and-twenty-five of our neighbors, friends, and loved ones no longer walk this earth because of COVID.

Both hospitals in Odessa are at near capacity because of COVID. Most of those patients will go home, but for many their lives will never return to normal because of COVID. Some of those people will never get to go home. I don’t have the words to express how tragic these things are. I hope you feel the same.

We can slow the spread of COVID. I know it’s not easy, and it can be a pain, but it’s possible. It’s those same things that the Centers for Disease Control have been saying for months now — we just need to do them.

>> Wear a mask over your mouth and nose. Wearing a mask as a chin strap is not wearing a mask. Wearing a mask just over your mouth doesn’t count either.

>> Stay at least 6 feet away from people if you possibly can — particularly if one of you does not have on a mask. Even with a mask it’s a good idea to social distance whenever possible.

>> Wash your hands frequently with hand sanitizer or soap and water.

>> Stay home when you are sick. One of the things I notice is people get a runny nose or a scratchy throat and they think “allergies”— they don’t think COVID, because they are not coughing, they are not short of breath, and they don’t have a fever. I can tell you after talking to many people who have tested positive for COVID, is that is how it often starts — they just don’t feel that sick. I have heard the words, “I thought it was allergies” more times than I can count now. That means people go to work because they don’t want to get behind or inconvenience others. They go to school because it’s hard for kids to miss a day. They go out shopping because they need groceries. They go to weddings, birthday parties and baby showers. The problem is that is also when people are the most contagious for COVID — when they first get symptoms. Going out and about when people are sick is how COVID is spread.

Please, please, please, if you feel sick, even a little sick, stay home. Then get tested so you know if you need to continue to stay home or if it really is allergies or something else. There is free testing available now in the community. If you go to the City of Odessa COVID-19 testing website: https://www.odessa-tx.gov/residents/health/coronavirus-covid-19-updates-information/covid-19-testing there is a list of places you can get free testing, the hours available, and if an appointment is needed.

Please be safe and follow the steps needed to help slow this disease in our community.

Odessa, TX

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