MOUNT CARMEL — So far more than 30,000 Americans have been confirmed to have been infected by the COVID-19 virus.

Fortunately at the moment the virus has yet to reach Wabash County. The Wabash County Health Department has confirmed throughout the past week that there’s yet to be a confirmed case — but the virus is slowly inching its way closer to Mount Carmel.

Evansville, Ind. confirmed its first case this past week, as a 63-year-old Henderson, Ky. native became the first case diagnosed at Deaconess in Evansville. Since then there’s been a slew of cases, mostly identified as individuals who’ve traveled internationally. On Monday the Gibson County Health Department in Indiana announced a senior citizen had been diagnosed with COVID-19, now meaning just the Wabash River separates Mount Carmel from the closest confirmed case.

As states continue to implement restrictions on the fly to assist in limiting the spread of this deadly virus, it’s important to examine the dos and don’ts to help contain the spread.

Though the virus has reportedly had a number of cases in which patients were asymptomatic, it appears some of the symptoms include a running fever, cough, fatigue, difficulty breathing, runny nose, aches, sore throat, and possibly even the loss of taste and smell.

Those across the country have been encouraged by the White House to only use the limited testing if they’re experiencing any of these symptoms and feel as if they’re at risk, or have been around a confirmed COVID-19 patient recently. If you are experiencing the difficulty breathing especially, contact your physician to be seen, do not walk into an emergency room or doctor’s office without informing them ahead of time.

If you have been around a COVID-19 case, or feel you may have the virus, it’s also important to take additional steps.

Locally, Wabash General is offering drive-thru testing in order to protect the health of patients, visitors and staff. If you’re given an order via a physician to require a test for COVID-19, you should call the WGH COVID-19 Hotline number at 618-263-6233.

If you’re not taking the threat serious yet, Judy Wissel, Agency Administrator at the Wabash County Health Department, says now is the time.

“The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold,” Wissel stated. “Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seen to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. If individuals do not adhere to the social distancing recommendations they are putting others at a greater risk.”

Wissel’s reference to social distancing recommendations were handed down by the CDC and White House, stating individuals should maintain a six-foot barrier between others in public, and gatherings should be limited to 10 people or less.

“This is the best way to avoid being exposed to this virus,” Wissel added. “Individuals need to maintain 6-feet distance from others. Other things we can do is to wash our hands often for at least 20 seconds, cover your cough and sneeze, clean surfaces often, and if you are sick stay home. If one person in the household is sick, the entire household should stay home.”

To assist in the fight against the virus, people are also encouraged to avoid travel at this time, domestically and internationally alike.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker certainly sent a resounding message as to the severity of the virus, when Pritzker issued a shelter-in-place order for the state on Friday afternoon.

Pritzker’s announcement came as the state experiences some of the worst infection rates in the country. As of Saturday, the Illinois Department of Public Health had stated there had been 753 confirmed positive cases throughout 26 counties in Illinois. There have been just six deaths as a result, equating to a sub-one% mortality rate in confirmed cases.

As testing becomes more readily available, the extent of those infected should continue to become more clear, as there’s likely a considerably higher number.

Some have expressed skepticism to the virus, suggesting it was a political sham or nothing more serious than the flu. Those notions need to be tossed aside immediately, as they could be best characterized as irresponsible and reckless at this point with what we know.

In Italy nearly 600 people are dying per day due to the COVID-19 virus. Though their population’s average age flutters around 60, that astounding number exemplifies just how deadly COVID-19 can be. There have been many cases in which even young adults have experienced some of the life-threatening symptoms of the virus.

And as far as its comparison to the flu — COVID-19 has over twice the contagion factor as the seasonal flu. In theory, for each case of COVID-19, one would transmit the virus onto an average of two different new hosts.

Sure, people are disappointed sports are cancelled, everyday life is on halt, but it’s important to follow these steps. Even if the majority adhere, a smaller group could compromise everyone else and continue to prolong the situation.

Buckle in folks, we’re in for a ride. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay indoors.

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