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COVID-19 - Seminole County
As coronavirus crosses the 2.1 million infected mark in the US, with over 116,000 fatalities here at home (over 445,000 across the globe), many of you have approached us with questions. We thought you would spare a moment to tackle some of these questions here. We understand that many are concerned, are in financial distress, and in need of social normalcy. We are too. But please note, that this is purely a medical and public health discussion. This is not to start a political or socioeconomic debate, we’re physicians, not politicians or economists.
Why are cases increasing again?
Because we’re going back out again. To understand the case trends you must first understand how the virus and testing works. Typically speaking, the incubation period (meaning the time from when you are first exposed to when you begin exhibiting symptoms and test positive) is up to 2 weeks. Now, almost nobody is going to be “to the day,” it typically takes a few days afterward to realize you need testing. Then, testing itself takes a few days to come back. So, we don’t really see an effect for nearly 2.5 to 3 weeks after exposure in terms of data.
When you look at it that way, the trends make perfect sense. We began our state of emergency precautions around early March and state-wide shut downs began the week of St Patrick’s Day (March 17). Our cases continued to rise until, approx. 2.5 to 3 weeks later, at the beginning of April, when we hit our peak, and the downward trend began. That effect perfectly illustrates the effectiveness of social distancing. We hit the lowest point of our trend toward the end of April right before we began re-opening our state and lifting restrictions (May 4). Then, that same 2.5 to 3 week delay took effect and we began our upward trend again. This is textbook epidemiology, this is the result of our increased social interactions when we reopened the state.
So how do we protect ourselves?
Social distancing, hand washing, and precautionary measures when out in public. The state was re-opened and restrictions were lifted because the first wave was subsiding and state leaders felt that our medical infrastructure was now in a position to handle the influx of cases. Not because coronavirus magically disappeared or was no longer infectious. It never went away, as jarringly evident from our rising number of cases. When you go to work, to the stores, to restaurants, you need to remain vigilant. Keep your distance from one another, wear your mask and gloves if you know how to use them properly, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, and keep your hands out of your face. Go out, live your life, but be smart. Realize that places will be short-staffed and under stocked for a while. Realize that some tasks will take longer to complete. Have grace with your community, we are all in this together.
When will this end?
Seminole County and more specifically Oviedo were very lucky that we weren’t hit hard, but we are now starting to see a startling uptrend here at home. We need to recognize the fact that because we were minimally affected here, it drastically skewed our viewpoint of the severity of this situation on a larger scale. Now, more than ever, is the time to be mindful of this virus and how it spreads. You don’t have to be afraid, but you do need to be aware and cautious. We all want to go back to January and February when this was outside of our borders. We all want it to go away. But we need to acknowledge that this virus doesn’t care what we want, and it doesn’t care about our race/gender or sociopolitical standings. It just wants to survive, and it feeds on us. So until we can figure out a cure or vaccine, our best way to beat it is to deprive it of its food source. If it can’t jump from person to person, it can’t survive for long. We don’t know how long this is going to continue, but until we get on the same page, the timeline will continue to stretch out. It takes a village to raise a child, and it will take us as a village coming together to get through this.