As 2020 (good riddance to a really difficult year) comes to a close, we are all looking forward to a better 2021. But let me add that there have been many wonderful and happy events in 2020, like the births of babies, (our new grandson included), weddings and other life cycle celebrations, and graduations to name a few. We have certainly learned to celebrate them in ways like never before, but nonetheless very special. Many of us have also experienced the loss of a loved one or friend during the past year and had to deal with it in a wholly different manner.
We “flattened the curve” earlier in the year, only to see COVID-19 return to our area more ferociously in a new wave, setting daily records for new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The approval of two effective and safe vaccines promises to finally provide us with weapons to fight the spread of COVID-19. But it is not an overnight remedy; it is going to take many more months and a herculean effort to put COVID-19 behind us, much like polio and smallpox in the past.
Now, more than ever, we have to stay smart and continue to avoid contacts. I receive numerous calls, emails, or pingMD encounters daily asking for testing because someone in a family has been in contact with someone who tested positive. These are most commonly from the “small” gatherings that the governor and Dr. Mendoza have been warning us about, or youth sports. We all think we are very careful and this couldn’t happen to us, but, guess what? Everyone thinks the same way and this is where the spread comes from. I have several families in which one family member met with a “few” friends, only to be exposed and infected by COVID-19, and, ultimately, transmitted it to everyone in the household. THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF!
We are tired of isolation and not being able to celebrate holidays and life events with our families and friends. We are tired of wearing masks. I am tired of wearing PPE most of the day and shoving swabs up patients’ noses because of exposures. I thought we had proven that we could knock this virus down and that we would be able to resume our lives this fall and winter. I was wrong.
Friends who are professors at RIT shared this graphic about the efficacy of wearing masks. Even the Dr. Mendoza stresses the fact that if both people involved in an exposure wear masks, it can significantly decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to the point where it is not considered a “contact.”
But, if you or a family member is exposed, you must quarantine for 14 days from the last date of exposure. (There are many variations on this theme, so I won’t go into the specifics here.) An exposed person does not need a test for the virus unless they develop symptoms. A negative test does not shorten the length of quarantine. Nor does it guarantee that you will not develop the infection during the at-risk period.
The best way to avoid all these scenarios is to stay away from gatherings and always wear a mask outside of your home. The best gift you can give your loved ones and friends this holiday season is the gift of good health. Thank goodness for technology. It is not the same as being with people in person, but Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Team or what other platform you use, will allow you to safely be loved ones without risking your and their health.
PLEASE… Stay Calm, Stay Home and Stay Masked so that we can all once again get together in the coming year.
From all of us at Lewis Pediatrics, myself, Bess, Betsy, Jean, Margie, Rebecca, and Harper, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season as well as a wonderful 2021 in which we can all see a return to a new and better “normal.”