Joanna Moyer Diener, RN, BS, MPH, is EMS health coordinator and shares the following information.

Dear EMS Community,

We are in a time when you are being saturated with ever-evolving information. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to dive in further to read or search for more information, and when to take time to step back, rest, breathe, and be thankful for the springtime and each day we’ve been given. It’s a challenge each day to wonder if we’re “doing it right.” A

As this is called the “novel” coronavirus, it’s new, so researchers and public health experts are updating information and recommendations as new, evolving data becomes available. It’s hard to stay on top of the flood of information and suggestions.

I wish we had more of a concrete road map in this uncertain time, but I also hope we can give ourselves grace as we process that this is a continuum. We need to take in the information available to us, and synthesize a plan that we feel is responsible and works for ourselves and our families.

Don’t burn out and get discouraged trying to read all the news that comes your way. Keep up the social distancing, stay home, wash hands, and find creative ways to be community during this time. A heartfelt thank you for being a community that rallies for and supports each other!

With much appreciation,

Joanna Moyer-Diener
Health Coordinator

Key points regarding the coronavirus/ COVID-19:

Transmission:

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads

Coronavirus on surfaces: A report in the New England Journal of Medicine two weeks ago found that the virus could be detected on cardboard up to 24 hours and on stainless steel and plastic up to 72 hours. A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates genetic material of the virus may be found longer — more than two weeks in some cases. However, the new study does not show if transmission of the virus occurred (i.e was infectious) from the surfaces, suggesting that the new finding requires more study, as the CDC recommends. The CDC states that it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

General Preventive Measures from the CDC:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Keep away from others who are sick
- Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet)

Symptoms: (From the CDC)
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. These symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).
- Fever
- Cough
- Shortness of breath

Testing:
Access to testing continues to be a challenge. It is recommended that you contact your health care provider if you believe you need to be tested to discuss with them. The CDC updates its priorities for testing patients with possible COVID-19.

Social Distancing:
We have all heard the terms “social distancing” and “flattening the curve” by now. Social distancing is a public health practice that aims to prevent sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people in order to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. With COVID-19, the goal of social distancing right now is to slow down the outbreak in order to reduce the chance of infection among high-risk populations and to reduce the burden on health care systems and workers.

Experts describe this as "flattening the curve," which generally refers to the potential success of social distancing measures to prevent surges in illness that could overwhelm health care systems. We continue to see encouragement from our public health experts to “stay home” in order to reduce our contact with others, and to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While we can’t practically stay home all the time, it helps if we understand the goal of these measures and do our part in slowing the spread.

Below are articles and resources that offer various ideas regarding social distancing:

 

Social distancing quick chart, printable pdf

Everything you need to know about social distancing, CNN

Pandemic tips to remain sane and safe during social distancing

What is social distancing?

Fifty doctors warn of Massachusetts coronavirus emergency

Hold the line: This virus is unforgiving to unwise choices

FAQs regarding Governor Northam’s Executive Order

Centers for Disease Control

EMS Coronavirus resources (videos, activities for children, etc)