Orofino,Idaho-Window on the Clearwater
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Keep your germs to yourself

by Nancy C. Butler

Anyone who knows me well, knows that personal columns/editorials are not my most comfortable form of writing, so chalk this up as rare, but I feel the topic is that important.

While the debate will go on between those who feel people should wear masks and keep a six-foot physical distance and those who feel these restrictions are an assault on freedoms, there is one of the measures that public health officials have recommended from the beginning of this COVID-19 pandemic that has always made sense-Stay Home When You Are Sick or may be contagious.

That is something that we all should do, whether we have a common cold or COVID-19. It is not a new caution; it has been taught for as long as I can remember. If those sick children had stayed home when I was in first grade, I wouldn't have brought home chicken pox or mumps, but that is a story for another day.

I spent a good part of Monday hearing about and chasing information about a COVID-19 positive person in Clearwater County who I am told had knowledge of their illness, yet spent time around town and in several businesses. Now there are at least five businesses that are closed, some for a few days and some longer while their staffs are tested and facilities sanitized. While I won't use the person's name in my writing, apparently a good part of the town has heard about the situation by now and knows who it is.

That person exposed people to the virus and the possible ramifications that nay cause. There are those who because they are basically healthy and/or in age groups that don't seem to have a lot of severe outcomes from having COVID-19 who may feel invulnerable or at least somewhat complacent. I would say to them, do more research, there have been deaths and severe cases in all ages. Even those who don't have severe cases talk about how awful they felt and the impacts on their lives.

Now, even if they didn't worry about who they may have exposed, think of the businesses, some that were just getting fully reopened after the closures ordered by the governor to slow the spread of COVID-19. Those businesses are now taking another financial hit, because that person didn't think through what they were doing.

COVID-19 is not one of those things that we can as easily avoid or deal with as a flood or fire because we don't know who or what may have the droplets that will cause us to become ill. That is why so many businesses, agencies and individuals are taking measures to be so careful.

Now with all the health issues I have had to deal with in our family, I am quite familiar with privacy and HIPPA issues. That being said, and with a sensitivity to people's right's, I think we need better information about positive cases in our community. What has been released in this area is so general most of the time that it doesn't help much.

The first case in Clearwater County was someone in their 20s and that is all we knew. Reminded me of the old saying when I was a teen that 'You can't trust anyone over 30', now it was the opposite, you needed to stay away from anyone under 30. It would have been helpful to know if they were self-quarantining at home or hospitalized, etc. The new web resources from Public Health-Idaho North Central District, where we live, give more data, but not how many COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, recovered, etc.

I had a discussion of the info/rumors I had gathered Monday with their public information representative, Tara Macke. She said she would talk to their epidemiologists and see if they had any more, they would like to release about Clearwater County's latest case which was reported Monday, a male in their 20s.

This is the response: "Public Health - Idaho North Central District considers our region to be wide-spread community transmission of COVID-19, anytime you are in a congregate situation not following social distancing and wearing a face covering, it is entirely possible that you are being exposed to COVID-19. This (is) why we continue to encourage the public to avoid these situations and to continue washing your hands, not touching your face, and staying home if you are ill."

May I repeat, "Stay Home if You are Ill". And while I am on my soap box, "Wash Your Hands".

Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: (208) 476-0733
Fax: (208) 476-4140