South Heartland District Health Dept. helps us understand coronavirus terms

Every state now has confirmed cases of COVID-19. (MGN)
Every state now has confirmed cases of COVID-19. (MGN)(KOTA)
Published: Mar. 25, 2020 at 8:27 AM CDT
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As the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to grow, it's important for people to understand some of the terminology that goes along with the outbreak.

South Heartland District Health Department's Michele Bever said there have been 20 people tested for COVID-19 in her district. That district covers Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. She said of the 20 there have been 15 negative results, one positive case and four that are still pending as of Wednesday, March 25.

She said the reason for the pending is that it depends on whether it was sent to a commercialized lab or the public health lab. She said if it's sent to the public health lab it could take one to three days.

"In the last 2, 3, 4 weeks, we've seen a lot changes: globally, nationally and locally too," said Bever. She said the number of cases and the amount of spread in different locations across the world and in the United States has changed over that time and so has their guidance.

She believes there's a lot of confusion when it comes to terms: social distancing, self-quarantine and self-isolation.

She said social distancing is what is being asked of people right now to help reduce the spread of the virus from person to person.

People are working from home so they aren't near their colleagues and events are getting canceled so that there aren't so many people in one place. If you can be 6 feet away from people and follow the less than 10 gathering rule, you are helping out.

"If we are farther apart, it's less likely we share an infectious disease," she said.

Now that doesn't mean you can't still go to the store, just limit the distance you are around people. We are trying to make it harder for viruses to move from person to person

Self-quarantine is different from social distancing. If you are being told to self-quarantine, you are voluntarily staying away from people because you may have been exposed to the virus.

"You don't have symptoms yet, but you are going to stay home and monitor for them," she said.

People who are under self-quarantine should be looking for respiratory symptoms such as cough, fever, sore throat and shortness of breath. You monitor yourself and go for the 14 days to make sure you don't develop any.

Most of our cases are traveler cases so if you have traveled you are more likely to have been exposed.

Self-isolation means you are have symptoms and are staying home away from people so that you don't get others infected.

"People are sacrificing their work and family to stay at home and to stay isolated if that's what's asked of them," Bever said. She said it's because of people following guidance that will make a difference in our community.