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Influenza vs COVID-19 

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

Fall is here. School is in session. Flu is around the corner.

Influenza is a respiratory virus that typically dominates our winters. It keeps us home from work and keeps students home from school.

Symptoms can include fever, chills, body aches, headaches, runny nose, sore throat, cough and fatigue. Symptoms typically start 2-3 days after exposure and will last for a few days to two weeks. Secondary infections can occur as a complication to influenza, such as ear infections, sinus infections and pneumonia.

Do these symptoms sound familiar? They should. This year influenza has competition with COVID-19 for being the dominant respiratory infection this fall and winter.

So what’s the difference?

Loss of smell and taste can be associated with COVID-19, typically not with influenza.

Influenza symptoms typically start 1-5 days after infection, COVID-19 symptoms can start anywhere from 2-14 days after infection.

Both can lead to severe infections such as pneumonia, however, COVID-19 can cause a more severe version, resistant to treatment.

COVID-19 can cause blood clots in lungs, heart, legs, and the brain, potentially leading to a stroke.

Most with influenza will recover in a few days to two weeks. COVID-19 symptoms can also recover in a few days to two weeks, but those with severe complications may be in the hospital for weeks to months. The cough itself may linger for weeks.

While there is much to learn about COVID-19, we are learning that this virus appears to trigger other reactions in the body, in some cases causing what appears to be an autoimmune response creating a situation where the body attacks itself.

COVID-19 attacks the lungs differently than influenza does, in some cases, much more aggressively.

COVID-19 may cause very few symptoms, creating “carriers” that can spread the virus, without knowing they are doing so.

Influenza treatments include antivirals that can be taken by mouth. COVID-19 treatment is continuing to be explored, while there are promising options, they are IV versions available for hospitalized patients only.

Death rate of influenza is 0.1%. Death rate of COVID-19 is 3-4%.

Last year 34,000 people died in the United States of influenza. In the past 9 months, 200,000 people have died in the United States of COVID-19. (It took the past five years for the same number of people to die of influenza.)

Another difference is the availability of a vaccine. There is a vaccine for influenza, there is not yet one for COVID-19. Many companies are working hard to come up with a safe vaccine that will hopefully be available next year.

Probably the most important thing about influenza and COVID-19, is that they are both spread by respiratory particles. Coughing, sneezing, and talking can easily cause spread. Wearing masks can help prevent the spread of both viruses.

So, while the diseases have similar symptoms, they are very much different in how they attack the body. Differences that we continue to struggle to understand and figure out, so as to come up with a treatment plan.

As fall and winter approach, get your influenza vaccine (now available at most clinics), wash your hands frequently and wear a mask. If you become ill, stay at home. Make an appointment with your health care provider for testing to determine if you have influenza, COVID-19 or another illness. Treatment options can proceed from there.

Remember, we are in this together.

Which Mask?

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health


Have we talked about masks? We’ve talked about the importance of masks. We’ve talked about the recommendation by the CDC. The recommendation that we all wear masks in public settings around people who don’t live in our household. We’ve talked about the fact that masks stop the spread of COVID-19, and at this time, we have nothing else, with the exception of closing everything down.

The CDC makes the recommendation for masks based on their effectiveness to act as a simple barrier in preventing respiratory droplets from traveling into the air when people cough, sneeze, talk and raise their voices. The louder we talk, the farther the particles can travel.

But we have not yet taken the time to discuss the mask itself. So, here we go. The CDC recommends that we wear masks with two or more layers. To wear the mask properly, make sure it fits over your nose and mouth, and secure it under your chin.

Covering just your mouth or nose, only does half the job. It should fit snuggly against the side of your face without gaps. For those of us that wear glasses, finding masks that fit tightly/closely over the nose, or one with a nose wire, will help prevent fogging.

There have been a number of studies investigating the effectiveness of material used for the masks. Most recently, Duke University compared 14 different masks and material, to wearing no mask. The results confirmed CDC recommendations of 2-3 layers of tightly woven cotton to be the best in a cloth mask (decreased droplet transmission by 80%), after a polypropylene fabric. A mask made of knit material decreased droplet transmission by 65%. And though bandanas are cotton, it is not tightly woven cotton, and was only 50% as effective. They also tested a single layer polyester/spandex gaiter, this was found to be no more effective than not wearing a mask.

How do we know if the weave it tight enough? The simple test, hold the material up to the light. It may not tell you how tight the weave is, but if you hold it up to the light and you can see through it, it isn’t tight enough.

The CDC recommends not using fabrics that are hard to breath through when making a mask, like vinyl. Masks with exhalation valves are not effective because they allow virus particles to escape into the air.

The CDC recommends wearing face shields to protect the wearer from contracting the virus through the eyes. The effectiveness of wearing shields alone to prevent spread has not yet been confirmed, evaluation is ongoing. When using a face shield, it is still recommended to wear a mask with it. Evaluating the effectiveness of gaiters, is also ongoing per the CDC.

Masks should not be shared. They should be changed daily or if they become soiled, and cleaned after use. Washing the cloth mask in warm soapy water and drying in a dryer will be adequate to sanitize them.

Avoid touching your mask while wearing it. If you need to readjust it, do so by using the edges of the mask, not the front of the mask.

Wear your mask into a restaurant, once you have reached your table, remove the mask. Put the mask back on whenever you leave your table.

If sitting in the stands at a school or sporting event, keep your mask in place. Remember, when cheering on the students or your favorite team, airborne particles can travel farther than when you are talking. Masks protect those sitting in front of and around you.

So, find a mask that is comfortable to wear. Maybe even find one that fits your personality. Choose a mask with 2-3 layers of tightly woven cotton, for the best protection. Be safe out there. Be Well.

We are in this together.

Be Mindful

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

As the wildfires burn in California, its residents stand helpless, doing what they can to stop the fires and their progression. While the cause of the fires is largely due to the heat and dryness, some were started accidentally, like with the pyrotechnics used for a gender reveal party.

Everyone was there to have a good time. No one intended the fire to start, but once it did, it was out of control.

No one intends to get COVID-19…No one intends to give COVID-19 to others. But it happens.

We get asked all of the time, “Why don’t you ever get sick? You work with sick people all day long, how do you not get what everyone else has?” The simple answer is we wash our hands frequently. We wash them when we walk into the room to see a patient, we wash our hands when we finish examining the patient and we wash our hands before we eat. And now with COVID-19, we wear masks. Yes, we’ve been exposed, and not just with patients, and wearing masks have made a difference.

Staying safe takes thought, at least until it becomes habit. Wearing your seatbelt. Wearing safety orange when hunting. Wearing ear protection when operating noisy equipment. Wearing a welding helmet to protect your eyes. Each time, you need to think about reaching for the seatbelt, your coat, etc. You need to think about when you will need to wear each item.

Being mindful of your surroundings and your actions is key to survival. Looking both ways when you cross the street. Knowing how deep the water is before diving in. Knowing how cold it is outside before leaving the house and dressing appropriately. These are all important.

Now, since COVID-19 has become part of our life, we have a whole new check list. Mask—check. Hand sanitizer—check. Six feet—check.

But when do we wear the mask? Whenever you are outside of your home. Put it on before you get out of your car. And wear it until you either are seated at your destination, six feet away from others or once you get back into your car. Once you are back in your car, it is also a good time to use your hand sanitizer.

Be mindful of your actions.

Just as wildfires can be prevented, spreading COVID-19 can be prevented.

Only you can prevent COVID. Wear a mask.

Now What?

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

As I sat down and began to think about what COVID-19 information I could include in this week’s article, the phone started ringing. Now that’s what I call an answer to a question. I had not yet sent up a prayer, and there was the answer. “Have you read the latest White House Task Force report? What do we do now?”

The White House Task Force has listed Clayton County among one of the 28 Iowa counties considered to be “in the Red Zone”. The Red Zone is considered an area in which the number of cases has risen in the past week above 100 per 100,000 and positivity rates above 10%. They look at the numbers for the week and over the past three weeks.

The White House Task Force considers the whole State of Iowa as being in the Red Zone. In fact, regarding the more than 100 cases per 100,000 statistic, Iowa (232 vs a national average of 88) has the highest rate in the country and the 5th highest positivity rate. Rural and urban counties in Iowa continue to have increases in cases and test positivity.

The task force has stated “Common sense preventive measures must be implemented to stop further spread.”

They have made recommendations for our county and state to follow.

– Wear a mask at al times outside the home AND maintain physical distance (The task force recommends a mask mandate state wide.)

– Limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer in red zones (and to 25 in yellow zones)

– Do not go to bars, nightclubs or gyms (The task force recommends closure of bars and reduction of seating in restaurants to 50% in yellow zones and 25% in red zones)

– Use take-out or eat outdoors socially distanced

– Wash hands frequently

– Clean high traffic surfaces frequently

– Reduce your public interactions and activities to 25% of your normal activity

– Ensure all business retailers and personal services require masks and socially distance

We all worry about our economy and fear a new shutdown. If we WEAR MASKS at all times outside the home, avoid mass gatherings, and if business retailers wear masks, we can safely shop and keep our economy open.

It truly is up to us, each one of us.

The Governor has said all along, she believes Iowans will “do the right thing”.

So? Now what?

Wear a mask.

Remember, we are all in this together.

Just a Reminder

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

As the count of cases in the state and county grow, it seems like a good time to review a few things.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are wide ranging. Some may have no symptoms. Others may have many or only one of the following: body aches, sore throat, fevers, headaches, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste, loss of smell, fatigue, diarrhea and/or congestion.

As fall arrives and school starts, we begin thinking about strep throat, mono, the cold and the flu. Therefore, making a diagnosis may not be as easy as it used to be.

If you think you have any symptoms you should stay home. If symptoms persist after 24 hours, it is important to contact your doctor’s office and discuss the possibility of being tested or making an appointment to be evaluated. Many clinics have made accommodations to keep ill patients and healthy patients safely separated for appointments.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, there are a few things to remember. Stay at home and take care of yourself. Most people will have mild symptoms and can recover with rest, fluids and over the counter acetaminophen. If you develop shortness of breath or chest pain, call your physician or emergency room. Stay at home, except for medical care. Do not visit public areas, stores or other people. The CDC recommends self -isolating or quarantining in your home for 14 days from onset of symptoms (or from a positive test if you are not having symptoms). While in your home, it is recommended that you avoid and isolate from others in the home to prevent others from becoming ill.

If you have been exposed to someone that has COVID-19, it is recommended that you self isolate (stay home, do not go to work, stores or to public places) for 14 days from the time of the initial exposure. (Guidelines differ for those who are considered essential workers.)

If you live with someone that has COVID-19 it is best to keep them isolated, in there own space, bedroom, etc. If you are able to do this, the quarantine time for family members exposed, is 14 days from last exposure to that person. If you are unable to isolate the person with COVID-19 from the rest of the household, then the family members that have had contact are instructed to quarantine 14 days AFTER the last day of quarantine for the person that was ill. Yes, that can mean a full 28 days. So it is important to practice isolation in your home if you can.

Why do we need to quarantine? When a person has been exposed to COVID-19, they are at risk of becoming ill. Quarantining helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms.

What counts as exposure or close contact? Close contact or exposure is defined as being within six feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more, with or without a mask. It is also defined as providing care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19. Also, direct physical contact counts, such as hugging, kissing, or sharing utensils. Wearing masks, helps decrease the risk of becoming ill when exposed.

We are all responsible for following the guidelines to keep each other well and to help with each other’s recovery through the process.

The fewer cases of COVID-19, the more we can be active and work on getting things back to normal.

So, remember the 3 W’s, Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance. These continue to be true while quarantining or isolating.

Be Well, we are in this together.

Team Effort

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

The 21/90 rule is not a rule I have been familiar with. It is the premise that it takes 21 days to make a new habit and 90 days for it to become a permanent lifestyle change. That is not to say that I am not familiar with trying to break old habits and make new ones. We have all done it.

Trying to stop biting your nails, stop snacking, drink less soda, stop swearing, or stop smoking. Or starting new habits like do dishes after each meal instead of letting them pile up, get up early every day to exercise, eat more vegetables, improve your golf swing, or call your mother every Sunday. No matter what it is, it takes practice to make it a habit. It doesn’t just happen overnight. But how long does it take?

As it turns out, there are differing opinions. It can take 18-254 days to form a new habit. The time frame is wide due to definitions of starting a new habit and the habit becoming a routine part of what you do, something you no longer think about. It also has to do with how often it is done, why it is done and how important it is to you.

I was recently at a meeting in a large room, tables spread apart, everyone seated 6-10 feet apart. I asked a question and another participant walked over, within a foot of me, and shared a picture on a computer screen to explain the answer. Without thinking, I backed away, to reestablish the six feet of distance and put my mask in place. Masking and physically distancing has become my new normal. From the beginning of the pandemic, I have been getting up and going to work. So, since the middle of March, I have been wearing a mask every day, every where I go. It is my new habit.

There are those that have told me in public settings, “you don’t have to wear the mask, I trust you.” I’ll take that as a compliment. Trust is a hard thing to earn. I am glad they feel I would be doing the right thing to protect myself and others. But, they do not know who I have been exposed to every day, just as I do not know who they have been exposed to every day. We can be contagious with COVID-19 for days prior to having symptoms, thereby unintentionally exposing others. Many will have mild to moderate symptoms if they get ill, but some will become critically ill, and we do not know what determines whom that will be.

So, we wear masks. We physically distance. We wash our hands more often.

Wearing a mask is the easy one. Put it on and go. The more often you wear it, the less uncomfortable it is, the better it fits. As humans, we are imitators. When we see someone doing something, we want to do it too. Wearing a mask reminds others to wear one. It makes it easier for others to do it comfortably and reminds us all of the importance of it.

Washing your hands for 20 seconds is also a new habit that takes time to relearn. We have all watched children get sent back to the sink to “wash your hands”, watched them run them under water and heard “I’m done!”. Have you timed yourself? Wash with soap for 20 seconds and rinse with water for 10 seconds? Singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is 20 seconds, or the “Alphabet song” with the “next time won’t you sing with me” at the end, is 20 seconds. Get those hands good and soapy, a single squirt of soap will do, the water and rubbing it together will do the rest. Interlace the fingers, rub them back and forth, get both sides of the hands, front and back, and the fingertips rubbed into the palms. Then rinse just as aggressively. Viruses and bacteria need both the soap and the water to rinse, to be eradicated.

Physical distancing has probably been the hardest one to learn. It takes constant concentration. Needing to be aware of your surroundings and those around you all of the time. It would be easier if we all had invisible shields that would have a warning system like the back up beepers in our vehicles…beep beep beep! It takes being mindful of our surroundings and remembering how far germs can fly through the air, even with masks on. How do we judge six feet? Roughly, two arm lengths can be a guide. So if you stick out your arm and the other person does the same toward you, if the arms or hands touch, you are too close.

So, hang in there. Like every new habit that is good for us, it takes time to incorporate it into our “normal”. But it can be done. It is worth it to keep each other safe. To keep one more grandmother alive and able to see their new grandchild. To keep one more dad alive and able to walk someone down the aisle. To keep our economy open and growing. This is a team effort and it may be the most important team you will ever be on. And like with all teams, we have to practice to get it right.

Remember, we are in this together.

Get On the Bus

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

The smell that wafts from a new box of crayons or new #2 yellow pencils brings back memories of school buses, new book bags, back packs and folders. Memories of new tennis shoes, stories of summer vacations and swinging on the monkey bars.

As students and parents look forward to the start of the school year, there brings along with it a certain amount of worry and concern. Will the students have to wear masks? What about riding the bus? How will the teachers teach class if they have to wear masks? What happens when a student or teacher gets sick or comes down with COVID-19?

This year school will have a bit of a different look and feel. COVID-19 continues to infect and kill people of all ages around the world on a daily basis. How can we keep our children and teachers safe?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has been clear, students need to get back to school, but they need to do it safely. In an article released by the AAP on August 13, 2020, they state… for “COVID-19, effective infection control and prevention includes wearing a cloth face covering, washing hands and physical distancing. These three basic skills can be implemented easily by children and adults to help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.”

“This virus is going to be with us for some time, and face coverings are a proven, effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said AAP President Sara “Sally” Goza, M.D., FAAP. “As parents prepare to send their children to school and into child care settings, cloth face coverings should be part of their new normal.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for schools many of the same things they recommend for day to day activity for everyone.

-Stay at home if you are sick, or think you may be sick

-Wear a cloth face covering, whenever you are closer than 6 feet apart

-Physically distance

-Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

-Avoid large groups

These “simple” recommendations become difficult when we are talking about groups of kids in hallways, on buses, at assemblies, in cafeterias, at recess, in locker rooms and sports.

Know that your superintendents, principals, teachers and staff have been working hard at combing through guidelines from the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Public Health, CDC, AAP, and the Governor, to come up with a safe plan for the students’ return to school. They have worked through learning how to cohort classes and how they may need to do contact tracing of students and teachers. They have plans for all students in the building, plans for some students in school/some remote learning and plans for everyone learning remotely. If that wasn’t enough, they have plans for how to navigate back and forth between them all.

As we learn more about COVID-19, we know that children can get COVID-19, but likely have milder symptoms. And, just like colds, strep throat and pink eye, they will share it with each other and bring it home to their families, to parents and grandparents that may end up with much more serious issues and complications.

So, as we take the list of school supplies and gather everything together, remember to pick up masks. Understand that a plan has been thoughtfully put together for your school. Be supportive of helping your children understand how easy it is to wear the mask, wash their hands and physically distance. These are learned things that will make a large difference in protecting the students, the teachers, our families and community.

Remember, children are imitators. If they see others wearing masks, they will wear masks. It will become normal. And we can get the students “back to normal”.

Here comes the bus! Get on it!!

We Can All Be a Hero

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

“It takes all kinds to make the world go around.” We have heard that adage ever since we were young. One has to admit that the world would be awful boring if we were all the same. We can’t all have blue eyes, like kale or jazz music. Variety is the spice of life!

We all need each other. We are all essential. Someone to grow the food, cook the food, sell the food. Someone to cut down the tree, process the wood, someone to build the house. Someone to build automobiles, sell automobiles, fix automobiles. Someone to teach the children, care for the children. Someone to stock the shelves, clean the floors and staff the check outs.

In the past five months we have become aware of all of the people that have been important in keeping all of us functional while we have been staying at home. There are the truck drivers, workers in warehouses, mail delivery personnel. Stores that have been flexible enough to respond to the need for mail orders, keeping them and us a float.

We call them essential workers.

We have heard a lot over the past five months about the hero’s we have in the healthcare workers. The workers in the hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics. Those that manage and organize the hospitals and clinics.

Those that are working diligently to come up with treatment options that are effective, those that are working on vaccines, those that are doing day to day care of patients in the hospital, intensive care units, emergency rooms and the crews in the ambulances.

And…there are those that have been staying at home, self isolating and avoiding spreading the virus to others. Those that have been wearing masks to protect themselves and others. By wearing the masks and physically distancing in the early stages of the pandemic a real difference was made in slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

Now that the state has opened up and people are interacting more often and in larger groups, the numbers have started to climb. Wearing a mask can slow this down. It can drop our numbers, making it safer for students to return to school, safer for them to visit their grandparents and safer for all of us.

No one sets out to get sick. No one intends on spreading the illness. Wearing a mask can prevent both.

You don’t have to be a healthcare worker to be a hero. You don’t have to be an essential worker to be a hero.

You can be a hero by wearing a mask. Save a life, wear a mask, be a hero. 

We are in this together.

We Need Each Other

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

Human beings are social creatures. We are born an infant and become a person through our interactions with others. We crave and need to interact with others. It is our way of learning how to integrate into society, to learn how to communicate, how to fit in and survive.

Humans have an internal need to be part of a group, to learn from each other, help each other, comfort each other, care for each other.

When one is interviewed for medical school, nursing school, etc, one of the questions often asked is “Why do you want to go into medicine?”

Frequently the answer is “to help people”. Students are advised that a more in depth or different answer may be more effective in making an impression on the interviewer. But when it comes down to it, that’s why most of us do our jobs. Mechanics, chefs, housekeepers, teachers, construction workers, nurses, clergy…we all help people. We all want to help people. It is ingrained in us, it is part of who we are.

Being with people and socializing is a need. A deep desire. The human touch, the presence of others, of those we love can be therapeutic. We need people to survive.

So, yes, it is difficult to practice social distancing, to self isolate or quarantine, to avoid group activities. We miss visiting our families and friends, especially when they are in the hospital, living centers and care facilities. They miss us. We miss them.

COVID-19 is not picky, anyone can come down with it, some can even have it, not have symptoms and pass it on to others. We do know that some can be at higher risk for complications and death. Those at highest risk are those with medical issues and the elderly, those in the hospital and care facilities.

Restrictions on visitors to the hospital and care facilities were not instituted lightly. We take the responsibility and privilege of caring for our and your loved ones very seriously. Like parents, we want to care for and protect them. By limiting or restricting visitors, we are attempting to keep illness outside of the building, away from the patients and away from those that are caring for them, so they can remain healthy to do their job. We are also trying to keep illnesses from leaving the building. The challenge with COVID-19 is that it can come and go without notice. We know that one starts to be contagious 2 days prior to symptoms starting, and may not have symptoms at all, but still be contagious.

Restrictions on visitors is guided by the prevalence of illness in our community. Restrictions can be lifted when the infection rate decreases and the positivity rate drops. A goal for low transmission is a positivity rate of less than 5%. The positivity rate in Iowa has typically remained between 7% and 9%.

Decreasing the infection rate, the positivity rate, can be done by washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks when in public. Wearing is caring.

We are social creatures. We all want to beat COVID-19. And in order to do that we need each other. We need each of us to wear a mask and physically distance. 

Let’s all do what’s right and take care of each other.

We are in this together.

Be Kind

By Dr. Michele Dikkers, Physician at Cornerstone Family Practice and GMHC, Chair of Clayton County Board of Health

The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. This principle dates back to the time of Confucius, around 500 BC.

Karma: Good intent and good deeds contribute to good outcomes.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.

If you don’t know what to do, be kind.

As of late, many of us have felt conflicted. COVID-19 has left us confused, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry. Remember to reach out to your healthcare provider if you become overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. Don’t avoid making an appointment out of fear of COVID-19, call and a safe appointment can be made for you.

While it is true that there are other coronaviruses, this specific one attacks the human body in ways we have never seen and there is still much to learn. Most coronaviruses attack the upper respiratory system (the nose, sinuses, etc), this one attacks the lower respiratory system (the lungs) as well as other organ systems of our body.

Epidemiologists are studying this little virus, trying to get to know it better, how it spreads, when it spreads, how contagious is it, can we get it again. Doctors are trying to find out how to treat it. It effects much more than just our lungs, and it infects our lungs in a much more aggressive manner than we have seen with other viruses and bacterias.

Scientists and immunologists are working on developing an immunization to protect us from becoming infected with it.

We have learned that the infection rate of the disease, or the R0 (R naught) has been estimated to be as high as 5.7, meaning that for each person infected, if nothing is done to prevent it, it will be spread to 5.7 other people. This is a high number. The R0 for the “common cold” or influenza is 2 or 3.

How do we drop that number? We do things that will decrease transmission of the disease. What are those things?

  • washing hands
  • physical distancing
  • avoid large crowds
  • staying home when we are sick
  • wearing masks

The Center for Disease Control and the Iowa Department of Public Health both recommend wearing masks when in public to protect ourselves and others.

This past week, Governor Reynolds has asked Iowans to step up and do the right thing. By wearing a mask and social distancing you are protecting yourself, your family members, your friends and fellow Iowans. The power is ours to slow the spread of COVID-19 while we continue to work toward a cure, effective treatment and a vaccine.

So, remember, when we are scared, frustrated, confused and don’t know what to do, be kind. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Help each other through this. Wear a mask to protect yourself and those around you, and they will do the same. These are trying times.

Be Kind. We are in this together.