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In this week’s column, I would like to share important information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is a major public health issue that is affecting every corner of the globe.
As you may know, COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes from someone who is afflicted by the disease. While it may be possible to become infected by touching a surface or object contaminated with the virus, this is not the primary source of transmission. Therefore, it is imperative that if you are feeling ill, stay home.
As of March 10, there were more than 700 confirmed cases in the United States and in just two days, that number almost doubled to 1,323 confirmed cases, with 10 confirmed cases in Nebraska. COVID-19 has symptoms of a fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing that will show 2 to 14 days after exposure. It is all but certain the number of confirmed cases will spike at an alarming rate, given that people who have been exposed may not be showing any symptoms yet. According to Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an untold amount of people in the United States will be exposed to the virus in the coming months.
At least 80% of the cases globally have been mild, but if the death rate continues to hover around two percent, that could lead to tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States alone. It is important that everybody reading this column take proactive steps for slowing the spread of the disease. Measures being adopted today such as the closing of schools, the cancelling of mass gatherings, self-quarantining, and avoiding crowds is designed to help alleviate this concern. People will continue to get sick, but at a slower rate as to not overwhelm our medical system.
The two most vulnerable populations at risk for COVID-19 are those who are over age 60 and/or those with chronic medical conditions. Even if you are young and healthy, it is important to remain diligent and to follow social distancing measures to avoid spreading the disease to others. While most healthy individuals who become infected will only have mild symptoms, they can spread it to those at risk who can become very sick, very easily.
Thanks to coordination with our excellent professionals at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who specialize in infectious diseases, Nebraska is one of the most prepared states for this outbreak. Our state government is working closely with experts and are listening to their guidance, but that can only do so much. Your help is needed as well. My call to action is for you to take the appropriate steps to help mitigate this outbreak – wash your hands frequently, sneeze into your elbow, consider avoiding events with large crowds, and stay home if you’re feeling ill. Things will continue to get worse before they get better, but we all can make sure this outbreak doesn’t get as bad as it could.
If you would like more information on COVID-19, more information can be found at www.unmc.edu/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov or call Four Corners Health Department at 402-362-2621 or the United Way Resource Hotline at 211 or 402-444-6666.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.