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By Margaret Leonard
NORTH STONINGTON – With words like “outbreak” and “pandemic” splashed across every media outlet, and headlines like “First Presumptive Positive Case of COVID-19 Identified at RIDOH's State Health Laboratories”, it’s hard not to have an increased fear of a new virus. The Milltown Monitor is being built on fact-based, non-sensationalized news.
Let’s break down the facts, talk about how to practice prevention, get prepared for worst-case-scenario and get you some resources.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “There is an expanding global outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.” There are many coronaviruses and you have most likely had at least one in your life. This particular virus has been officially named SARS-CoV-2 and it causes COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019). This is the third time in recent history where a coronavirus isolated to animals has passed to humans and resulted in human-to-human spread. The other two were Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
On Friday, First Selectman Michael Urgo hosted an informative meeting for community officials. In attendance were Stephen Mansfield, Director of Health for Ledge Light Health District; Gary Baron, Director of Emergency Services for North Stonington; George Brennan, Director of Emergency Services for Stonington; Theresa Pensis, Senior Center Director and Agent for the Elderly; Resident State Trooper, Officer David Greene; Christine Dias, Administration and Finance Officer; Christine Wagner, Chair of the Board of Education and Peter Nero, Superintendent of North Stonington public schools.
Mr. Mansfield described the health departments in the United States as “the best in the world”. The group at the table seemed confident in their preparedness for such an outbreak.
In a statement from Mr. Urgo, "North Stonington follows Ledgelight Health Districts guidance and has been in regular contact with them to be sure we have the most up-to-date information from the CDC."
One of the worst side-effects of COVID-19 is stigma. Fear and anxiety lead to social stigma. When false information is spread, we feel a need to place blame and our own vulnerability rooted in fears of disease and death leads to gossip that spreads rumors and myths. Stigma is defined as discrimination against an identifiable group of people, a place or a nation. Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. It is YOUR responsibility to learn the facts. Before you share that graphic, meme or article, check the facts. Are the sources cited? Are the sources reputable? In the United States, facts should be obtained by the CDC.
Diseases can make anyone sick regardless of their race or ethnicity.
People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.
The risk of getting COVID-19 in the U.S. is currently low.
Some people who have traveled to places where many people have gotten sick with COVID-19 may be monitored by health officials to protect their health and the health of other people in the community.
Someone who has completed quarantine or has been released from isolation does not pose a risk of infection to other people.For up-to-date information, visit CDC’s coronavirus disease situation summary page.
You can help stop COVID-19 by knowing the signs and symptoms:
There are simple things you can do to help keep yourself and others healthy.
Page last reviewed: February 28, 2020
Content source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases
CDC recommends individuals and families follow everyday preventive measures:
Voluntary Home Isolation: Stay home when you are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. At the present time, these symptoms are more likely due to influenza or other respiratory viruses than to COVID-19-related virus.
Respiratory Etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw it in the trash can.
Hand Hygiene: Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol.
Environmental Health Action: Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
Routine use of these measures by individuals and their families will increase community resilience and readiness for responding to an outbreak.
Content source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Get Your Flu Shot
While a flu vaccine won’t prevent or reduce severity of COVID-19, public health authorities strongly advise everyone to get their annual flu shot if they haven’t already. In addition to preventing or mitigating the severity of flu, the vaccine may simplify the evaluation of patients with flu-like symptoms who may have a more serious condition.
Content Source: Yale Medicine
Disinfect Your Home
Read the labels on all cleaning supplies.
Have you read the back of that disinfectant you have? Did you know that a disinfectant isn't an all purpose cleaner? If you are using something like Mr. Clean, you will see on the front of the bottle that it says "KILLS 99.9% of bacteria*" With the active ingredient being Sodium Hydroxide 0.34% you must leave it on the non-porous surface for 10 minutes for it to be an effective disinfectant. Lysol disinfectant spray uses the active ingredients Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) and dimethyl benzyl ammonium saccharine 0.10% and Ethanol 58%. Read the back, because depending on what the surface is and what germs you are trying to kill, the surface may have to remain wet for up to 10 minutes. On the other hand there is something like Clorox Clean-up Cleaner and Bleach. That will kill the same 99.9% of bacteria and viruses in about 30 seconds, using Sodium Hypochlorite 1.84%. With these chemicals, you will want to open the windows and let some of that crisp, cool air in.
Did you know, that even though these are household items many of you have in your home, the schools aren't permitted to use them? That's right, in 2009 Connecticut passed a law permitting only the use of industrial cleaners independently certified by one of two third-party certified organizations: Green Seal or Eco Logo.
No parent, guardian, teacher or staff member may bring into the school facility any consumer product which is intended to clean, deodorize, sanitize or disinfect.
If you are someone who prefers "green cleaning" in your home, take a look at a cleaner like Seventh Generation, Disinfectant Spray. According to the label you will need to leave it on the surface for 10 minutes and to air dry.
It is important to use an all-purpose cleaner, then disinfect the surface.
As for yourself, get your supplies ready. These are things we should be doing during flu season anyway, but with heightened awareness of disease prevention, let’s review:
Make sure you have soap at every sink, so you can do your 20 second wash. Tip: Sing "Happy Birthday" and that will last about 20 seconds.
Place little hand sanitizer bottles everywhere: car, purse, lunch box. backpack, coffee table.
Have something handy to sneeze into. The CDC recommends a tissue you can immediately dispose of, followed by hand washing or hand sanitizer.
Purchase a set of nitrile gloves. Wear them when pumping gas.
You don’t need a face mask, it isn’t going to keep you healthy. If anything, you will be touching your face more and creating a greater risk for infection. The mask is most helpful when worn by those infected. It will contain the respiratory droplets they are coughing out.
North Stonington is going to be ok. We can always get out of the house and go for a hike.
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