Topic: Parent Recording #2
Start Time : Mar 24, 2020 02:00 PM
I also have a letter from Dr. Tin (Gorham School Physician) below and as I mentioned in my video...the number to Maine Crisis Hotline is 1-888-568-1112. Also, the link to the School Committee zoom meeting tomorrow night is:
Here is Dr. Tin's Letter...
Dear Gorham Public Schools families,
What a week it has been – with schools and businesses closing, people social distancing, and increasing numbers of positive cases in our communities, our lives have changed in unprecedented ways. I wanted to give you an update and address a few commonly asked questions on COVID-19, especially as there is some confusion and conflicting information out there about COVID-19.
First off, as the virus is now clearly spreading through our community, I want to urge everyone to step up our efforts at social distancing. I cannot emphasize this enough. As the epidemic continues to grow here in our community and across the globe, what we all can do is to maintain our physical distance. To see what social distancing can do to cut off transmission of the virus, see this nice diagram: https://thespinoff.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Covid-19-Transmission-graphic-01.gif
So what exactly does social distancing mean, and how does it differ from sheltering in place and self-quarantine?
Social distancing means increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. This means avoiding large gatherings, canceling meetings/conferences, closing schools/workplaces, and keeping six feet of space between each other when out in public. Just last week, we were discussing limiting large gatherings, BBQs, concerts, parties, etc. It is becoming clear that these restrictions are not enough. Health experts are urging more aggressive social distancing – avoiding leaving the home (except for essential trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc.), having play dates, having friends/visitors over, visiting the grandparents (and anyone over 60 who are at highest risk of severe illness), and going to playgrounds. Going to large parks or on a hike, walk or bike ride in more secluded areas is OK, if it’s somewhere you can easily maintain 6 feet of distance from others. This website has a nice Q&A on what is good social distancing: https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/21/health/social-distancing-coronavirus-faq-wellness-trnd/index.html
Shelter in place - Several cities and states (not Maine, yet) have now issued shelter-in-place orders, which mandate non-essential businesses to close and people to stay in their homes except for essential activities, such as going to the grocery stores and pharmacies. Most such orders have provisions allowing walks, etc., outside, provided people keep 6 feet apart from one another.
Self-quarantine means staying at home, having no visitors, and keeping 6 feet of space from other members of your household. This is for those who have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive case or have been to an area thought to be high risk for COVID-19 exposure. This typically lasts 14 days.
Self-isolation is similar to self-quarantine, but it applies to those who have tested positive, or are suspected to have COVID-19.
What do I do if I have symptoms?
If you or your loved one has fever, cough or shortness of breath - call your primary care provider to see if they recommend evaluation and testing. While tests are in short supply and many clinics and hospitals are limiting testing to high-risk individuals, it is important to get advice based on your health history. Equally important, if testing is not recommended, you could still have COVID-19. If symptomatic, assume you have it and isolate yourself at home until your symptoms have resolved.
How long will this last?
Likely several months, but unfortunately nobody knows the answer. We are still early in this outbreak, and the virus is so new that there are many things we don’t understand about its behavior. A vaccine is unlikely to be available for over a year, and treatment is supportive at this point - all proposed medications are experimental and need much more study to prove their efficacy and safety.
In the meantime, I suggest you prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. If we do this right, the models show that we can slow the spread of the virus enough that health systems do not collapse: hospitals will have enough resources for the patients who need them, manufacturers can make enough personal protective equipment (PPE), and effective treatments and vaccines can be developed. There is hope: we just need to buy enough time for these things to happen.
What CAN my family do, and how can I stay sane during this time?
It is important to know what you CAN do as much as what you CANNOT. Beat cabin fever and stay active by going outside and enjoying the coming springtime – bike rides, hikes, runs, etc. with family – just maintain 6 feet separation from others. Exercising at home is a great option too, and apps and websites like Sworkit, Class Pass Live, GoNoodle.com, and Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube have classes and exercises to get your family moving and have fun. Engage socially: I have seen wonderful things happen in the community – neighbors reaching out to each other to offer help, people connecting through singalongs on the street, families connecting through FaceTime as never before, and teachers coming up with innovative ways to teach virtually.
What are good sources of information on coronavirus?
As things are changing so quickly, it can be difficult to get reliable, up-to-date information. The CDC and WHO are the leading authorities on the coronavirus.
I also think the Harvard and Johns Hopkins public health websites have excellent information.
As hard and scary as this has been, I see hope in what people are doing in the community to connect and support each other. Keep your physical distance from others, but make sure to socially and emotionally stay connected and take care of yourselves. We will get through this together.
Tin Ha-Ngoc, MD
Gorham Public Schools