5 things to know about COVID-19

Mar 5, 2020

MARQUETTE, MI--   The Medical Director of the Marquette County Health Department, Dr. Kevin Piggot, says Upper Peninsula residents shouldn’t panic, but they should be aware of the newest coronavirus and how to take precautions against it.

No COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the U.P or the rest of the state.

Piggot says there have been numerous instances of influenza, as is typical this time of year, but no COVID-19. He says it’s difficult to pinpoint the coronavirus, as its symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath) mimic those of the flu and other viruses.

If anyone meets certain COVID-19 criteria, that information and specimens will be sent to the state, which will determine if the person actually meets the definition.

Don’t wear hospital masks.

Officials don’t believe the masks protect anyone from getting the virus; they are used primarily on those who are suspected of already being ill. The masks contain droplets from coughing and sneezing and reduce the likelihood of infecting others. Piggot says people buying masks in stores or online is reducing the number available for health professionals.

Wash your hands. No, really.

Piggot says you might be tired of hearing it, but hand-washing is the single best way to avoid getting and spreading any virus. “Hand washing doesn’t mean just sort of dribble some water over your hands,” he says. “It truly means washing your hands: to wet them first, to then soap them, to wash for at least 20 to 30 seconds.”  That’s about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday, or, if you sing quickly, sing it twice.

If you can’t wash your hands, Piggot recommends using hand sanitizer with 60 percent or greater alcohol content.

And don’t forget to keep your hands to yourself. “You do want to try and avoid touching surfaces that you don’t otherwise have to touch,” Piggot says, “and that includes your personal self. Don’t touch your face if you can avoid it, because that is the site of where this virus infects us—our respiratory system—and the greatest entry to that is our mouth and nose.”

Piggot says we also need to protect others. “When we need to cough or sneeze we need to cover it, but we should cover it with a tissue then discard that tissue, wash our hands afterwards.” No tissue? Cough in your elbow, not in your hands. And if you are ill, stay home, whether it’s the coronavirus or any other.

The Marquette County Health Department is working with state and federal authorities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is disseminating information to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which is passing it along to county health departments. They’re providing updates on a regular basis, and that information is given to county health professionals, hospitals and Northern Michigan University.

On Wednesday it was announced the state of Michigan is getting $14.5 million from the CDC to prepare against any outbreak and to improve readiness. That includes the purchase of masks, gloves and vaccines.

For the latest trustworthy information…

Go to the World Health Organization website at www.who.int or the CDC site at www.cdc.gov.