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The number of cases of Covid-19 has begun rising around the state of Indiana resulting in four straight days of 1000 plus cases. 

Locally in Washington County, the number of cases has nearly doubled in the last three weeks. 

Washington County Health Nurse Alicia Thompson spoke on WSLM’s Coffee Club Thursday morning and answered some questions for the public. 

ON THE RISE OF LOCAL CASES

[The numbers have been up a lot) have a lot lately. I think that’s everybody getting out, going to entertainment venues, getting together for different kinds of parties…and they started going up very quickly. 

The vast majority of our new positives are adults.  Businesses are open and most people are still not taking this seriously or believe that it won’t affect them much. The problem with that thinking is that it may not affect you much but you may then inadvertently pass it along to someone who can not tolerate it well and it could potentially kill.  

WHY DON’T PEOPLE TALK ABOUT GETTING COVID-19? 

I think it’s just because there is so much unknown and everyone is so scared of it. People don’t want it to get public that they’ve had it. 

Lately, we’ve had more people who want to tell their stories. 

ARE WE STARTING TO SEE LONG-TERM AFFECTS OF COVID AND UNDERSTAND IT MORE? 

Yes, they are just now starting to learn it can affect all systems of the body. It’s affecting all systems. So many people who have had strokes….a kind of arthritis pain in th joints. It’s not something we can speed it up, we have to get all the information as people are positive. It will take a few years to see what all Covid can do to people. 

And yet at the same time, we don’t know the full extent of what it can do, but we are learning ways that treatment has to be changed to take care of different people. 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WEARING MASKS? 

I am for the masks just because there is so much unknown. We may get it and we might have little to no symptoms but what can it do you in the future? We have to look at other diseases…Chickenpox can cause Shingles…Diphtheria can damage essential organs in your body.

All these diseases that we’ve had in the past….in the long run can cause something severely or even be deadly.

Why not be proactive and try and prevent it as much as possible because we don’t know what it will do to us.

We don’t want to potentially spread it to someone else. Am I going to inadvertently spread it to grandma, an elderly neighbor or someone who can’t handle it well?

HOW MUCH HAS THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT BEEN USED AS A SOURCE IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS?

The phones have been going non stop.

We’ve worked with all the schools and businesses. We work with all the restaurants and all venues….events….all of these entertainment venues. They have to submit plans and we have to review them. Plus we’re still doing the immunizations and other health department work. 

WILL CASES GO UP AS SCHOOLS REOPEN?

Whatever your decision trust that it’s the best for your child. There is no right or wrong now.

The schools have been doing a great job implementing the new policies….to try and keep everyone safe.

Whether you keep everyone home, if that works for your family….we’re all learning together. To do our best to try and prevent this.

We need to be as vigilant as possible in teaching children proper hygiene.

Trying not to touch our face as much as possible.

Cloth masks should be washed daily. Water bottles should be washed daily.

It’s all a learning curve here. Do our best to keep everything sanitized and wearing the mask as much as possible to keep those children from getting it or potentially spreading it. 

ARE MANY CHILDERN BEING INFECTED LOCALLY?

We are fortunate in Washington County. Not many children have been infected.

At this time they still think they are asymptomatic or have very few symptoms.

They feel that now children with Covid can get something called MIS-C….it is an illness that in the future can start affecting….rash, organs can shut down….it’s just like…all the other positives we have…adults have symptoms afterward.

[Editor’s Note – Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) was first identified in April 2020, by doctors at children’s hospitals in the United States and the United Kingdom. The condition has also been called pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS).]

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/misc-and-covid19-rare-inflammatory-syndrome-in-kids-and-teens

WHAT MASKS ARE SAFEST? 

We would like you to wear as safe as a mask as possible. If you can see light through it, then it’s not safe. 

Cloth masks need to be washed daily. Disposable masks need to be thrown away when visibly soiled or have been worn for a total of 8 hours. 

Masks with vents built-in will not protect anyone around you. That person could potentially be spreading the virus since the exhaled air is not filtered. 

Cloth masks are about 80 percent effective. 

Disposable masks…please throw them away. I’ve seen so many laying around in parking lots. It could potentially be contaminated. So many trashcans…if you want to throw it away….put it in a trashcan. 

You don’t need to be wearing N95…please save those for the healthcare workers. 

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO FEEL THIS ISN”T REAL OR A CONSPIRACY?

The only thing we can do is try to educate them.

If there are those that have had this, they can try and speak out and let them know, this is real.

[They could say to them] “I did have it and this is what happened.”

I’ve heard all those theories…and it’s sad. I think it might be political in the sense that they can blow it out of proportion. But it’s very much real. We’ve seen these patients we know what it’s doing to them and there’s nothing fake about it. 

WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOU NEED TO BE TESTED, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO? 

If you found out you were a close contact, wait 3-5 days until you go get your test done.

Your body needs that time to have time to build up the antibodies and for the virus to even be able to show up in the test itself.

If you’re a close contact, stay home and wait 3-5 days. 

A huge problem I have noticed is that those people that have been in contact with a positive case are not staying home quarantined. 

If you have been in close contact with a known positive, you are to remain at home for 14 days even if you don’t have symptoms.

The other big problem is that when state contacts a positive case, the positive either won’t participate in the contact tracing or isn’t being truthful about who they have been in contact with.

Then the close contacts aren’t notified of their exposure.

When you’re being tested you have to stay home in quarantine until they get their results.

If you’re being tested or someone in your household being tested you have to stay home and finish that period…you have to stay home until you get your results and know what to do then. 

[People are going out after getting a test and before they find out the results] and that’s helping to spread it. That’s too risky for yourself and everyone around you. 

WHAT IS CLASSIFIED AS A CLOSE CONTACT?

Best rule of thumb for a close contact is someone you’ve been in contact with for 15 minutes.

I’m not going to say you were safe if you were there for 12 or 14 minutes, I don’t believe that at all.

To consider you a close contact, it’s 15 minutes. 

We have a tool we use to determine that. It depends on if they had symptoms or without symptoms. 

WHAT ABOUT WHEN A FAMILY MEMBER HAS TO TAKE A TEST? 

If that is someone that’s in your household, then everyone is in quarantine…14 days. 

You still have to remain in quarantine for 14 days because the symptoms can come up in those 14 days. 

HOW LONG DOES TESTING TAKE? 

On a very good day, it was taking 3-5 days. Lately, it’s taking longer. As long as 7-8 days. 

For some reason the test are taking double the amount of time to get back. 

I don’t know if this is because so many more people are getting tested and labs are overwhelmed or possible very understaffed. 

It is very stressful awaiting results especially when it is about something that is so new and not truly understood.

I have been telling people that it may take up to 8 days to get their results. Many places that are testing are saying 3-5 days but the average has been 8 days.

IS IT TRUE WASHINGTON COUNTY CAN ONLY PROCESS 10 TESTS PER DAY? 

That’s not the truth at all.

The hospital [St. Vincent Accession] has a limited number — I’m not exactly sure what that is. There are two local facilities that will do testing…Schneck and Salem Medical Center. 

Call first and let them know you would like to be tested and they will schedule you to be tested. 

The state still has OPTUM serve sites…they are free of charge. They will test you free of charge and you don’t have to have symptoms or a reason.

You have to call and make an appointment…register online. 

The number is 888-634-1116 and the website is 

https://lhi.care/covidtesting

WHAT ARE THE RECOVERY RATES? 

We have a very high recovery rate. What it’s going to do to you in the future? That’s the real question.

It’s well over 95 percent…maybe closer to 99 percent. 

Sometimes the symptoms can go on for well over a month after the period where they can spread the virus

People who have underlying conditions that haven’t been tested…it’s so iffy…not worth anyone’s life.

WITH CHILDREN GOING BACK TO SCHOOL DO YOU THINK OTHER FALL AILMENTS WILL BE AMPLIFIED? 

Hopefully, with all this extra hygiene and cleaning and with masks, it will cut down of any type of illness because of all the extra cleaning and the handwashing. 

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE MASK MANDATE FOR INDIANA?

That was a huge relief. We had actually talked to some stores and asked them to make the policy. They didn’t want to step on customer’s toes or lose customers, they had to wait until their corporate changed the policies. 

It’s so easy….for the vast majority of our population to do online [shopping] We live in a time where that is readily accessible to us. It’s a great resource. It works for everyone.

WHAT IS THE PREDOMINENT AGE GROUP FOR COVID CASES IN WASHINGTON COUNTY?

I have not looked that up.

We’ve been manning the phones and trying to get caught up on the school vaccines.

I have not looked at that. I know it’s lowered…Early it was 60, 65 and older…it’s been younger. Nationally closer to 30 range.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN TO PREVENT COVID? 

Any cleaning product that you use for your house should be effective enough.

The outer layer can be killed with soap and water.

That’s not going to kill all viruses….you have to make sure every surface touched or breathed on, needs to be scrubbed down.

Typically we clean the top of the table, but little fingers can touch everything. So you need to clean underneath. 

Bleach? Yes. you have to make sure it’s properly diluted. If it’s not done just right, it can leave the residue on a surface then you could hurt someone if food touched it and then you ate it. 

Every aspect of this is eye-opening. It’s a learning experience for all of us. 

Lysol….it’s very good. It should kill Covid, which has a very permeable exterior layer.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON FALL SPORTS? 

Those are legitimate concerns. We just have to be vigilant with masks and cleaning.

We may have to raise our voice to talk to our friend six feet away. We can still socialize, but keep that safe distance.

[Editor’s Note – The IHSAA and local schools are requiring masks and social distancing when in stands for high school football games.]

People that aren’t typically in your household, still wear the masks.

HAVE YOU WORKED WITH LOCAL HOTELS ON CLEANING FOR COVID? 

They are all very effective with cleaning.

They get the same information we do.

Neither are able to hold the capacity to have to use the mandatory safety plan the governor spoke about.