For months now, we’ve all been focused on the four key actions Gov. Brian Kemp and Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey designed to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear a mask when out in public or when you cannot keep distance inside.
- Practice social distancing – six feet from those you don’t live with.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds several times throughout the day with soap and warm water.
- Follow public health guidelines.
As we move through the year, what else can we do to battle COVID-19 and strengthen the health of Georgians and our state’s economy? Here are some ideas:
Get a flu shot.
Reducing the strain on our healthcare system during the flu season is a No. 1 priority. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of having to visit the doctor by 40 to 60 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccinating people over the age of six months is the best weapon in our arsenal to fight against the flu and its compounding influence on COVID-19 infections.
During the 2019/2020 flu season, 2,519 people were hospitalized with the flu in metro Atlanta alone. And since 40 percent of people infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, they may unknowingly spread both viruses when coughing, sneezing and talking while infected with the flu.
Know your local data.
The Georgia Department of Public Health Daily Status Report is a wealth of information that can help you evaluate COVID-19 containment progress throughout the state. More importantly, you can monitor progress in your home county about Confirmed Cases, Deaths, Hospitalizations, Intensive Care Unit Admissions, and Percent Positive, which is the percentage of people tested that are positive for COVID-19. The lower the number, the closer we are to containing community spread of the virus.
Calculate your risks.
Individual decisions matter, and the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool can help you understand the risk you’re taking by attending an event. A collaborative project by Georgia Tech, Stanford University and Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory, the calculator allows you to input the number of people at an event for the estimated chance that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present.
For example, if you select an event of 25 people in Cobb County, there’s a 27 percent chance that at least one person attending will have the COVID-19 virus. In Fulton County, that chance is 23 percent; 13 percent in Clayton County; and 37 percent in Cherokee County. In Stewart County, located in the southwestern quadrant of Georgia, there is a 91 percent chance someone at the event will be COVID-19 positive.
You can adjust the calculator for event size. Increase the number of guests to 50, and that percentage jumps to 99 percent in Stewart County; 60 percent in Cherokee County and 24 percent in Clayton County.
Fully recovered COVID-19 patients may be able to help those currently sick with the virus. People who have contracted COVID-19 have antibodies to the virus, and donating plasma puts those antibodies to work to help others fight off the virus once they are infected.
Plasma – the liquid portion of your blood – can be easily replaced by your body. It consists mainly of water, proteins and antibodies that help your body to function. If you have survived COVID-19 your plasma includes antibodies that could help others fight the virus.
While there is no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 yet, donating plasma is a major step in combating the virus. Donating blood plasma is a safe process that has been used for more than 100 years to help save lives. Thousands of people safely and painlessly donate every day.
You can learn more here.
Know when to quarantine.
Whether you have symptoms or you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, everyone must stick to the CDC’s quarantine guidelines.
If you think you had COVID-19 or know you had it, you must quarantine until 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, you have gone 24 hours with no fever without using fever-reducing medications, and other COVID-19 symptoms are improving.
For people who tested positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, they must quarantine until 10 days have passed after receiving a positive viral test for COVID-19.
For anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must stay away from others until 14 days have passed since your last exposure to that person.