Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the April issues of Preston Hollow People and Park Cities People. However, the advice regarding social distancing and hygiene remain just as valuable today.
Take a deep breath, don’t freak out, and follow expert advice as the nation works to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“Please don’t panic,” DFW Hospital Council CEO Stephen Love said. “One of the good things about this virus — many people don’t have to be hospitalized even if they’re presumptive positive. They can be treated at home, which is good.”
Love and other health care leaders, including Dallas County Health and Human Services Director Dr. Philip Huang, have sought to reassure the public and provide guidelines for protecting one another during the unfolding pandemic.
“Does everybody need a test? … the answer is ‘no.,” Love said. “The medical professionals and the people that will treat you are going to make the determination if you need a test…We want to make sure we use the test kits appropriately.”
Love also encouraged people who experience symptoms, which experts say include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath, to go to their primary care doctor first, rather than the emergency room.
Huang said that to slow the spread, officials have taken several measures:
Quarantining, which is for people who have been exposed to the virus but may not have it during the period of incubation of the virus.
Isolation, which is for those who have the illness.
And ‘social distancing,’ which means keeping about a 6-foot distance from others to avoid exposure to the ‘droplet spread’ from things like coughing or sneezing, as well as preventing large gatherings.
He also reiterated the importance of measures like proper handwashing; avoiding touching your face; coughing or sneezing into a wipe, then throwing it away; staying home if sick; and washing frequently-touched surfaces often, as well as avoiding contact with people who are ill, and large crowds.
“Slowing that spread down really has two major goals — to protect vulnerable populations, and those vulnerable populations are persons over 60, those with chronic healthcare conditions… and the other purpose of slowing down the spread is to really protect some of the healthcare system,” Huang said. “That’s the goal of this is to slow it down, draw out the number of cases and illness that we see, so it doesn’t overwhelm the healthcare system.”
He said such ‘social distancing’ measures become more aggressive when there’s evidence of community spread, or person-to-person transmission happening among people who haven’t traveled.
“It’s not a time to panic. It’s a time to continue these ‘social distancing’ practices…and together, we will address this,” Huang said.
He explained that if someone tests positive for COVID-19 and lives with their family, the family members would be considered as having close contact, be asked to quarantine, and be monitored for symptoms.
In a bit of good news, Love noted many providers offer virtual screening tools to help “guide and direct you, in many cases, to give you peace of mind that you probably don’t even need a test, but it’s to educate you and help you screen.”
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