By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health
Earlier this year Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at age 87 from cancer. She remained active in court decisions until her death. In the past three years she was involved in hearing over 200 cases. She was the mother of two children and a grandmother.
Per the WHO (World Health Organization) there have been 43.5 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, 8.68 million of those cases are in the United States. Worldwide there have been 1.16 million deaths, 225,000 deaths in the United States. (Data from Johns Hopkins October 28, 2020.) An American dies every 107 seconds from COVID-19.
The United States has approximately 4.5% of the world population, while the US carries 20% of the COVID-19 cases and 20% of the deaths.
There is very little we can do about the current existence of COVID-19. It is one of those things we have to develop a strategy for fighting head on. Early in the course of COVID-19 Iowa managed its mitigation well and held the daily case count to around 500 or less a day. We flattened the curve. As time has progressed the daily counts have climbed. In late August the number of new cases reported in Iowa climbed to over 1,000 a day. Over the past week we started recording 2,000 new cases a day.
The numbers in Clayton County have also spiked. We are now reporting 4 times as many cases a day as we did two weeks ago. The cases we are now seeing are spread throughout the county and are no longer isolated to an event or age group. The cases are now considered due to community spread. Community spread means it is spread by casual contact or exposure, to someone that is contagious. You can be contagious if you have mild symptoms, or it may be during the two days prior to symptoms starting. This means that, even if you are outside, wearing a mask will protect those you are around from COVID-19. Let’s face it, you don’t just get COVID-19, someone gives it to you.
The highest risk populations for having complications or for dying of COVID-19 are those that are over the age of 65, have obesity, diabetes, lung disorder (COPD/emphysema/asthma), heart disorder or cancer. These groups are at high risk for breathing difficulties, strokes and organ failure, thus, putting them at risk for dying. When they die, it is due to COVID-19, not the underlying condition. If they had not been “given” COVID-19, they would not have died. Even the elderly would still be alive, living with their co-morbidities.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, died of pancreatic cancer, not COVID. But think about all she did in those last three years.
Imagine having three more years with your grandparent, parent or sibling.
No one intentionally gives COVID-19 to another. Eighty percent of the time, the symptoms will be mild. Three percent of those infected will die. Some argue that this is a low mortality rate, those that have lost a loved one will tell you it is too high.
The risk of dying from breast cancer is 2.6%, less than that of dying from COVID-19. We celebrate a whole month every year as a united front to fight for a cure for breast cancer. There is no way to prevent breast cancer. We know how to prevent COVID-19.
Flattening the curve worked in the past. It can work again.
Understanding the importance of Wearing masks, Washing our hands and Watching our distance, can flatten the curve again.
As winter approaches, the 3 W’s will be essential at keeping COVID-19 under control, as we will be doing more activities indoors where ventilation may be limited, increasing the risk of spread.
So, for the sake of those you love, your friends, your family, those you work with and your community, do what you can to prevent the spread. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance. Avoid large social gatherings.
Be well and let’s take care of each other.