COVID-19 and what it means for you

An update from Sara Semal at Emmons to help the community sort through what the evolving COVID-19 pandemic means for them.

Dear Oxy,

As we all know, the COVID-19 crisis is constantly evolving, with new information, instructions and restrictions every day. I imagine many of you are asking, “What does this mean for me? How do I sort through all this?” The following are some key points for all community members to know and understand.

Covid-19 may be spread through mildly symptomatic transmission and surfaces. There have been varying reports on modes of transmission, so it can be difficult to know which are correct. While we know that direct contact with someone who is symptomatic (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) is the most certain mode of transmission, some recent studies suggest that individuals that appear asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms can pass the virus. Furthermore, coronavirus has been found to be detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Therefore, people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

What this means for you: All this underlines the importance of the guidance you’ve already heard: Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, keep surfaces clean, stay home when sick and maintain social distancing measures.

As testing becomes more available, the number of identified cases in the U.S. will rise. Since the supply of testing kits has been limited, only individuals with severe symptoms and/or a known exposure to someone who has tested positive have been getting tested. As tests become commercially available, more people with milder symptoms can get tested and more positive cases will be identified.

What this means for you: At the point where tests become commercially available, get tested as soon as you begin experiencing even mild symptoms. For more information on getting tested, call your local ER or email me and I can guide you through the process.

“Flattening the curve” aims to reduce the number of new cases over time. In order to slow the spread of the disease, two main things must be accomplished: getting an accurate number of current cases through widespread testing and reduced exposure. Because we do not yet know who has coronavirus, anyone could be spreading it. Therefore, the current mandate to be“safe at home” is critical to stopping the spread of the virus and protecting all community members.

What this means for you: Flattening the curve is achieved by keeping healthy people healthy and allowing the illness to run its course in those who have it. Since the virus can last for weeks in the most severe cases, following the Department of Public Health’s instructions to remain home for as long as necessary is of paramount importance to beating the virus and getting life back to normal.

 Covid-19 can be serious for people of all ages. While mortality rates among those who contract the virus are highest among older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions, of those hospitalized to date in the U.S., 38% were between the ages of 20 and 55. Further, approximately half of those requiring intensive care have been under the age of 65.

What this means for you: No matter your age, you must take precautions to guard against the virus and keep from passing the virus on to more vulnerable populations.

Transmission happens fastest through communal living. Oxy wants to support all students and provide the safest place possible for those living and working on campus. In order to do this, it is imperative that students follow the social distancing guidelines set by the Department of Public Health.

What this means for you: Students in social gatherings in residence halls and standing in line at the Marketplace need to adapt to six feet of distance between individuals. No parties (on or off campus), no risky behavior that could lead to unnecessary hospitalization (like rock climbing or excessive drug/alcohol use), and practicing safe sex (now to include assessing cold/flu symptoms and exposures).

Remember - we are all in this together! Through community actions like social distancing, hand washing, and staying isolated when sick, we can slow transmission of the virus, open up healthcare services to those who need them and buy time to develop a treatment and vaccine.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call or email me at any time.

Sara Semal, LPCC
Senior Director, Emmons Wellness Center