COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Much nation-wide focus has been on how to avoid dying from COVID-19, how to “flatten the curve”, and how to avoid a surge that overwhelms hospitals. From a medical perspective, our team has been stellar; we are prepared at Meeker Memorial Hospitals & Clinics.

We have seen the COVID-19 spikes in our neighboring counties, and we wonder when Meeker County will become more affected. While we don’t have the answers, please trust that we have extensively planned to care for you and for your loved ones safely in the event of a surge. From a community perspective, COVID-19 will be present for a long time, and at this time it is also important to focus on learning to live in the presence of COVID-19.

Here is some of what I know about COVID-19. 

COVID-19 is primarily spread by droplets. These droplets get onto surfaces or the hands of others whom we touch. Then when we touch our face, we risk personal infection.

With that, here are the best ways to prevent spread, according to intensive care physicians in New York:

• Sanitize or wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds if washing) frequently. Open doors with your elbow or open them by backing into them. If you touch things in public, sanitize or wash your hands again.

• Avoid touching your face. This is really hard to do. Be aware of when you accidentally touch your face. If your hands are just washed, touch your face if you need, then wash them again. If you are careful with hand washing in your house, you can probably touch your face safely…shoot, I just did it again.

• “Keep your droplets to yourself.” A mask helps you to keep your droplets to yourself. Humans may carry COVID for a number of days without symptoms, and already be contagious. The statistics we see for this virus are that one person may infect five others, which quickly creates an outbreak. Wearing a mask in public places, even if you feel well, protects others and may help prevent significant spread in the community. Wearing a mask also may help build the habit of touching your face less frequently.

• Make the best of it. If you hunt consider a camo mask. If you are a Vikings fan consider a Vikings mask. Make fun of me for my Iowa Hawkeye masks. As someone who is masked most of my days at work, it turns out not to be that big of a deal. You get used to it and you can make it a fashion accessory if you like.

My hope is we will soon be able to return to a life with far more personal interaction and economic activity, even if that means masks become a fashion accessory and hand sanitizer is available in kegs.

We already do these things at Meeker Memorial Hospital & Clinics. We safely provide care, with new precautions in place. We are not scared, but we are accounting for the safety of ourselves and our patients, by our habits and our precautions. Our hospital and clinics have never been more germ-free. Stay safe, we are here for you.

Dr. David Ross is a family physician at Meeker Memorial Hospital & Clinics.

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