Hello, fellow veterans. I hope all is well, and everyone is safe and healthy. We currently live in some crazy and uncertain times with all of this COVID 19 virus stuff going on. Who would have imagined this was going to happen, right? Well, here we are!! I would like to discuss this month is COVID 19 for those who are still uninformed or still need more information. The VA has been very proactive on this matter, and John Hopkins has a wealth of information.
What is the VA doing?
The VA has implemented an aggressive public health response plan to help protect and care for our Veterans, their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this COVID-19 evolving health risk. The VA is currently working directly with the CDC and other federal partners to monitor the virus's outbreak.
What should Veterans do?
Any veteran experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, no sense of taste/smell, or shortness of breath should immediately contact their local VA facility. VA urges Veterans to call before visiting. Alternatively, Veterans can sign in to My HealtheVet or call the VA to explain their conditions and receive a prompt diagnosis.
Upon arriving at VA, all patients will be screened for flu-like symptoms before they even enter the facility to help protect other patients and staff. A VA health care professional will assist you with the next steps once this screening process is complete. At this time, VA is urging that all visitors who do not feel well to please postpone their visits to VA facilities.
How to protect yourself
Currently, there is no effective vaccine to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 infection and no medication from treating it. The CDC believes symptoms appear 2 to 14 days after exposure. Avoid exposure and avoid exposing others to infection with these simple steps.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water.
· Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Stay home when you are sick or becoming sick.
· Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands) and throw the tissue in the trash.
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
· Getting a flu shot is recommended.
VA COVID-19 Cases
Nationally, as of March 30, 2020, The VA is tracking 1,166 Positive Veterans with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and 27 Deaths. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and the VA provides updated information as it becomes available and verified.
Social Distancing and its Effects
Social distancing has been a very effective means of reducing the spread of the virus; however, the only way this plan works is for people to keep their distance from others for it to work. In recent days, there have been prominent U.S. voices calling for a stop to social distancing, citing the rationale that the consequences of social distancing are worse than the impact of COVID-19 itself. It's worth looking very closely at that claim, where we are in the US epidemic, and what happens if we stop the social distancing efforts in place around the country.
COVID-19 has been spreading with exponential growth in the United States, and we're just beginning to get an understanding of how extensively testing has become more available. We shouldn't be considering the relaxing of strong social distancing measures until we have drastically slowed the spread rate, dealt with our dire shortages of supplies and diagnostic capacity, and prepared our health care system to deal with surges in patients.
These social distancing measures take time to work. The impact of significant interventions in China took about three weeks to start to reverse things. And then their situation got better. In the USA, we're only about ten days into large scale social distancing, depending on the state.
To drop all these measures soon would be to accept that COVID-19 patients will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the US health care system could bear. Many reputable models predict that health care systems will be entirely overwhelmed by the peak of cases if social distancing is not maintained.
Anyone advising the end of massive social distancing now needs to fully understand what the country will look like if we do that. COVID-19 would spread widely, rapidly, terribly — and could kill millions in the year ahead with substantial social and economic impacts across the country.
Before considering changes to social distancing measures, we should use all our energy to get to the most vital possible position for COVID-19 response. It's encouraging that we are beginning to make progress, but we are not ready!
So, hopefully, this information helps improve your knowledge. Please stay safe out there! I know we have all had to make a drastic change to our lives and how we live to get through this life-changing event. Like any other event we have experienced, we as veterans will always get through it because we have the skills to adapt, overcome, and endure.
WFTV.com (2020). What is the Department of Veteran Affairs doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic? Retrieved from https://www.wftv.com/news/trending/coronavirus-what-should-veterans-do/6NX6MM3MOVE4FPAIBDBDQFN5SQ/
Inglesby, T. (2020). Coronavirus: No, we aren’t even close to ready to ease up on social distancing. USAToday.com. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/03/26/coronavirus-pandemic-growing-too-fast-stop-social-distancing-column/5083173002/
Image provided by AMProgress.org (2020). COVID-19 Resources. Retrieved from https://www.amprogress.org/covid-19-resources/covid-19-photo-library/