A Pandemic of Fear:  Common Sense about COVID

covid emojii

Does anyone else find this lock-down worrisome?

We are ruled by fear.

Sitting in our homes, waiting to get sick.  Surely the virus will wipe us all out.  Watching the economy spin quickly out of control as the virus spreads just as quickly, doubling and tripling in rates by the day, continuing its spread until it wears itself out.  

The object of this post is not another worn-down talk about COVID, but to put it in perspective.  We are riddled with misinformation, and no on knows what to think, but the truth of the matter is we are panicking over something that could have been prevented. 

Imagine:  You are a patient in a hospital.  There are many sick people with the flu and other infectious diseases, and various healthcare workers frequently traisp into your room, checking on you.  Each time someone enters, they push the button for the antibacterial cream, rub their hands a few times, and then do their thing.  As they walk out of the room, they squirt a little more solution on their hands, and off to the next patient they go.

healthcare acquired infections

A nosocomial infection is an infection acquired from a stay in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient surgical clinics, renal dialysis centers, and other healthcare facilities.  Hospital-aquired infections (HAI) are contacted by every third patient admitted to the hospital.  The CDC reports  that in 2015, out of 687,000 cases, 72,000 died from HAI, but the Patient Care Link puts these numbers at 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths per year.

Healthcare-acquired infections have been a problem for some time – a problem we continue to ignore, and people continue to become infected and die at amazing rates from a stay in the hospital.

Three common strains are escheria coli (e.coli), clostriduim difficile (c. dif), and MRSA, or methicillin resistent staphylococcus aureus. 

    • E. coli lives in the healthy environment in the intestines and is necessary in
      e coli
      e. coli

      digestion of food.  When out of the body, it is found in uncooked meat and unwashed vegetables, making it a common cause of food poisoning.  This bacteria also causes urinary tract infections, and any site with a catheter is a breeding ground for the bacteria. Hand sanitizers do not prevent the spread of e.coli.

  • c. difficile
    c. difficile
    • Clostridium difficile is a bacteria that resides in the large intestine.  It causes severe diarrhea that can lead to dehydration.  This is especially prevalent in nursing homes and hospitals and also is spread through contact with feces and improper hand washing.  Hand sanitizers also do not work with this bacteria.
    • Methycillin Resistent Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that infects wounds, is resistent to most antibiotics, and certain strains can kill you quickly.  Not much destroys this germ.

      mrsa
      mrsa

  • WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH COVID?

    The numbers from COVID are alarming and rise every day, and if I post them here, they will be outdated by tomorrow.  But there is this to say about age-related deaths. 

    Examining 72,000 deaths in China by early March, only 1.2% of the deaths were from children ages 1 to 19, and 0.9% were under 10 years.  Only one adolescent died, but infants and children with asthma and a weakened autoimmune system were at higher risk of serious illness from the virus.  The majority of deaths (<80%) were in people over 65.

    As of March, of the COVID cases in the United States, the majority of people admitted to hospitals were from long-term-care facilities.  Like China, 80% of the deaths are those over 65, are admitted more frequently, and utilize the ICU more often. 

    Now it has come to light that the epicenters for the virus in the U.S. are nursing homes.

    nursing homes are ground zero for pandemic
    click on image to read article

    Healthcare facilities, by their nature, are germ-fests on a healthy day.  We trust emergency rooms to be equipped to handle germs of every kind, but as we see by COVID-19, they are not.  

    The virus began in this country in January and February 2020, two full months before the alarm was sounded.  People were sick and went to the emergency rooms or doctor’s offices to be treated.  Not knowing what they were dealing with, the healthcare professionals used their normal handwashing and infection control measures, which were not adequate  even before the COVID outbreak.

    Soap and water will wash the virus away – antibacterial hand-cleaning solutions will not. 

    Using their normal hand-cleaning techniques, healthcare workers unknowingly spread the disease, and multitudes of people were walking around with a virus that quickly escalated to epidemic proportions.  People became sick right and left, and by the time the government sounded the alarm, it was too late.

    Antibacterial solutions also will not eliminate any of the three causes of HAI mentioned above.  Soap and water is the most effective means to wash away any of these germs found in hospitals. 

    The most common cause of transfer of e.coli and c.difficile is from feces to mouth. 

    In all cases, the best thing all of us can do to prevent the spread of disease is by proper handwashing when using the restroom.  Healthcare workers should wash hands before and after treating each patient.  This is not rocket science, but many studies have shown that workers do not wash their hands often enough, even with infection control training and warning signs above the wash station.

    Did you know, more people die per year from HAI than they do in jumbo-jet crashes?  The airlines have figured out how to stop their planes from falling from the sky, but people die at enormous rates from infections acquired in healthcare facilities, which are allowed to continue with unsanitary practices.

    What is the solution?
    1.  Enforce infection control procedures in health care facilities where transfer of fluids, bacteria and viruses are common.  Or we could..
    2. Continue on as before.  The spread of COVID will eventually decrease, but people will continue to die from hospital-aquired infections.

    More people died in the Civil War from infection than they did from bullets.  Since then, penicillin was discovered and infection control measures were instituted to stop the spread of disease.  But in past years, we have become lax.  

    The best option?  Stop the fear factor of becoming deathly ill.  If we all used common sense in keeping our families safe and healthy, we would not need the government to tell us to stay home.  Employers and schools can revisit their sick-leave policies and keep people at home when they are sick.

    The world is changing, but we cannot prevent every death or disease.  We never could.  This sudden take-over of our lives over a virus is rather disturbing.  

    Could this spread of COVID have been prevented?  It certainly would have been better contained if healthcare facilities were more careful about preventing the spread of infections.

    There are things we can do

    Demand your local healthcare facilities look at their quality policies in regards to infection control.  The problem with HAI has been swept under the carpet for too long, and perhaps if better measures were in place before, there would not have been an epidemic of COVID.

    And most importantly –

    Stay home when you are sick!
    and
    Wash your hands frequently!

    We can learn from this.  We can be more cautious in our daily lives to prevent  infections from spreading.  A hard lesson to learn, but mistakes are a good teaching tool.

    Well, you now have a new perspective on this crisis we are in.  There is no need to be ruled by fear.  Be smart and safe.  Stay home and let the disease run it’s course.  And save every penny, because the onslaught from this will not be pretty.

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