By Amy Davis, MD, Emergency Medicine Physician and Medical Director of MRHC Express Care
The year 2020 has proven to be like no other we have experienced. With the ongoing pandemic, our lives have been flipped upside down and altered with an abundance of precautions. I miss the days before we knew the phrase “social distancing” as much as anyone.
I serve as Medical Director of Express Care, an urgent care clinic owned by Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth. Since March, we have tested and evaluated thousands of patients, some with severe symptoms, yet many who have mild or even no symptoms at all. That is the unfortunate makeup of the pandemic we are currently facing. Take the virus seriously. Your case may be mild, but the person you infect may not be so fortunate. Our state health officer recommends Mississippians work and only go places for essential functions right now. It sounds so harsh, I know, but it is the only way to stop the spread until a vaccine is widely available.
I am optimistic about the vaccine and hope to take it myself before year end, but it is not realistic to think this vaccine will halt coronavirus any time soon. The vaccine will not be widely available to the general population until later in 2021. Hospitals are full and beds are limited throughout the nation, making it harder to treat patients effectively with COVID, as well as other unrelated illnesses. Another pandemic problem is that thousands of individuals are delaying routine care out of concern of contracting COVID-19. I fear we will soon see advanced disease in patients who missed routine screenings such as mammograms. For all these reasons, we need to continue to follow the guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is crucial for overall good health, in pandemic times or not. To specifically protect others, wash your hands directly after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Be sure to social distance when possible. It is important to remember that even people who do not display symptoms may be able to spread the virus. Staying at least 6 feet apart is key when attempting to maintain a safe distance.
- Wear your mask whenever you are in a public setting. Masks have proven to help prevent you from getting or spreading the virus. Again, a mask may prevent the spread of the virus when you aren’t aware that you are infected with it.
- Frequently, clean and disinfect surfaces daily. Clean commonly used or touched items, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, cell phones, etc.
- Be alert for symptoms. If you feel that you are experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other common COVID symptoms, please do not make plans to go about your day as normal. Discovering and monitoring the symptoms is critical to both your health and the people around you. For more common COVID symptoms, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.
I hope everyone will continue to take the virus seriously in the coming weeks. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to see firsthand how devastating this virus can be to patients and their families. If we continue to work together, and take the appropriate precautions, we will see a brighter 2021.