Corona Virus (COVID-19)

There are virus pandemics (epidemics in multiple countries) almost every year. Usually it’s the flu, which affects millions of people and causes thousands of deaths. Last winter (2020), the flu infected about 38 million in the USA, and about 22,000 of them died from it. 

There is a new strain of the old corona virus (COVID-19) which has rapidly spread from China to the rest of the world. Unlike flu which can kill young healthy people, most of the deaths from COVID-19 are in elderly people who were already in poor health. COVID-19 is more contagious than flu, but 80% only get a mild cold from it, while 20% have a bad flu-like syndrome with cough and fever. Even if you have symptoms, if you are generally healthy you have a 99% chance of surviving. You may have the virus and be contagious for 3-14 days before any symptoms show up. That being said, it is very important to take extra precautions to prevent spread of this virus, which could kill your loved ones who are elderly or in poor health. If you are sick, stay home as much as possible, don’t visit your elderly friends and relatives, and don’t go to the doctor! (or ER or urgent care! ) There is no medicine the doctor can prescribe for routine COVID-19, so stay home and let the virus run its course. If you get short of breath or feel very sick, you may have the severe form of Covid-19, and you should then see a doctor to see if you need to be treated in the hospital with oxygen and supportive care.

Even though 99% of young healthy people do well with COVID-19, there is a growing number of cases of severe illness in young children (called MIS-C, or multi-system inflammatory Syndrome in Children). There are also growing concerns of late inflamatory illness, such as myocarditis in the heart, brain or other organs, which could complicate even milder cases of COVID-19. This is scary because you may not show symptoms of heart damage for several years. 

A mask should be worn (in public) by anyone who is sick with COVID-19 to prevent spread. Since there are a lot of people who catch the virus but have no symptoms, during the pandemic period we should ALL wear masks in public buildings and enclosed spaces to prevent possible spread. But wearing a mask will not prevent you from catching COVID-19 or flu or any other virus. BUT, you can do a lot towards prevention by wearing a mask, washing your hands often, using hand sanitizer, and staying away from crowded places. In general, keep at least 6 feet (2 arms length) away from other people, and farther away from someone who is coughing or doing something that would expel virus particles more forcefully such as talking, singing or exercising. 

There are a few risk factors that greatly increase your chances of dying from COVID-19: diabetes, lung disease, obesity, and heart disease. You can acquire these conditions pretty easily by smoking or eating sugar, so I recommend that you quit if you have those habits.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccination is very important! If you are over 18, you can get the vaccine now, and it is free. The vaccine is extremely safe, but like other flu type vaccines some people experience minor side effects like a sore arm or a day of fever and fatigue. Most people do not even have minor side effects. There are several places around town that offer the vaccine, including the Medical Center and several pharmacies. We expect the vaccine will be available for teens down to age 12 by this summer (2021). More testing is needed for children under 12, but that is being done now, and we expect vaccine to be available for all kids by the start of 2022.

Being outdoors playing disc golf (and other healthy exercise) should pose no increased risk of acquiring this or any other virus. Just wash your hands, don’t get in people’s faces (2 arms length), get your flu and covid shot every year and have some fun!

© Rick Voakes 2021