Orofino,Idaho-Window on the Clearwater
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Dr. Johnston gives update on COVID-19 situation

by Dr. Jenny Johnston, Clearwater Valley Hospital provider

Clearwater County had one person last week test positive for active COVID-19 infection.

The Idaho North Central Public Health District released a statement on June 26, confirming the first positive case in Clearwater County. The public health office has been contacting people that came into contact with this person with active coronavirus.

Coronavirus is a group of viruses that includes SARS and COVID-19. COVID-19 infection causes mild to moderate respiratory illness in most healthy people. Most healthy people recover without any special treatment. However, older people, people with medical problems (such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, or cancer) are more likely to develop severe illness. Some healthy people may also have severe illness if infected with COVID-19.

As I am writing this article, the Centers for Disease Control states there have been almost 2.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US. Unfortunately, nearly 125,000 people have died.

The world is still learning about COVID-19. Vaccine trials are currently ongoing and are optimistic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said last week that he is hopeful a COVID-19 vaccine will be available early next year. Other countries are also working to make a safe and effective vaccine.

The many weeks of worrying about coronavirus have been exhausting, to say the least. The truth is, COVID-19 is not going away any time soon. This is our way of life for now. We are learning to slow down and be more present in our homes. We are learning to care for our neighbors and our communities with selfless acts such as social distancing and mask wearing. We are learning to lean on each other.

Now that our county has a positive COVID-19 case, please remember that you can be tested for COVID-19 at Clearwater Valley Hospital Monday - Wednesday from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Thursday - Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.. Just show up! There are no out of pocket expenses and results should be available within 72 hours. Some symptoms to look for are cough, shortness of breath, fever, loss of taste or smell and/or fatigue. Most people will have symptoms 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19. However, some people can have the virus and have no symptoms.

Many people have been asking about mask wearing. Please wear a cloth mask (or other face covering like a handkerchief) in public. As annoying as a mask is, wearing a mask can help protect other people from getting COVID-19 from you. Mask wearing only protects us if we all wear one. Wear your mask to the grocery store, hardware store, and other areas with groups to protect your neighbors and yourself. We know that COVID-19 is spread by person to person contact. Mainly from respiratory droplets from an infected person's coughing, sneezing or talking. These droplets can live on some surfaces for up to 72 hours. A cloth face covering will help prevent virus droplets from spreading to other people. Please note, children under two years old should not wear a face covering as this can be unsafe.

Social distancing is also effective in controlling spread of COVID-19. This means staying six feet away from other people in crowds. Many businesses have marked spaces six feet apart in the check-out area, for example.

Lastly, please wash your hands. Hand washing (20 seconds with soap and warm water or using hand sanitizer) will help remove the virus from your hands if you are exposed. This will slow the spread.

Our clinic and hospital have been very cautious and proactive to keep people safe from potential exposure to COVID-19. We are seeing anyone with potential COVID-19 symptoms in an isolated respiratory clinic located at Clearwater Valley Hospital. Everyone is screened at the hospital doors for COVID-19 and we continue to have a limited visitor policy at the hospital. Please continue your regular care with your provider, your health is a priority and should be treated as such! We are continuing to have all people in our hospital/clinic wearing a mask for safety. It is so important that we do our best to keep each other healthy. Call our clinic at any time for questions, we are here to serve our community!

Clearwater County has been very fortunate to have had only one case so far of COVID-19! We can continue to keep our infection rates low and should be proud of the efforts everyone has been making to keep our community safe. As a frontline worker, thank you for doing what you can to keep myself and my family safe. We are lucky to live here!

Photo: Dr. Jenny Johnston

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