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COVID-19 is a strain of coronavirus (think everything from the common cold to H1N1) that began in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It affects the respiratory system, similar to SARS. The number of deaths from COVID-19 has already surpassed those from the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic. Scientists believe the virus originated in a market in Wuhan but are still working to find the source as well as “patient zero,” i.e., the animal that transmitted it to the first human.
The authorities initially suppressed warnings from the Chinese doctor that originally reported the virus, and he has since died of the virus himself. This sparked widespread public anger, and the authorities involved have been removed from office. Did this delay exacerbate the initial spread of the virus? Most likely.
The Chinese government has since taken many precautionary measures to contain the spread. The combination of COVID-19’s deadliness and infectiousness makes it one of the largest challenges our generation has faced. COVID-19 is a pandemic that looks likely to affect a majority percentage of the global population and have severe economic repercussions that last years.
Read our comprehensive Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guide To The Pandemic on our sister site Safe Smart Living, to find out how you can prepare and cope. If there’s one thing you can do right now to help yourself, your neighbors, and your loved ones, it’s to practice social distancing. COVID-19 is not “just a cold” or “just another flu.” As statistics mount experts are learning that the virus is proving much more dangerous than we initially anticipated.
Next up we’ll have coronavirus information that is specific to Winston-Salem, the triad area, and the state of North Carolina.
34-year-old Jessica Simone is a medic studying to become a nurse, so she was very aware of the pandemic looming. What she didn’t realize is she would become one of the first people in Forsyth County hospitalized by COVID-19. What started out as a mild fever and seasonal allergy symptoms slowly grew into increased fever, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. She’d spend two weeks in an ICU bed on a ventilator breathing for her. She pulled the tubes out twice herself while thrashing and hallucinating.
The literal fight for her life was just beginning. And she had no idea how hard it would be.
“I said it couldn’t happen to me and I knew my (medical) history,” Simone said last week while recovering at home. “It can happen to you. Nobody’s special, and nobody’s left out.”
“You hear about people in New York who never had the chance to say goodbye,” Masny said. “I can’t imagine how awful that would be.”
Fortunately for Simone — and those who love her — that didn’t come to pass.
“On the 7th [of April], I started crying and realized I could have died,” Simone said.
She went home on April 9 and has spent the time since slowly regaining her strength. She’s also had time to think and has a message for the nurses and doctors who cared for her.
“I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why are all these people in space suits and why are my hands tied down?’ I feel like I should apologize to my nurses.”
Simone also has a message for anyone who might still downplay the seriousness of the virus.
“Everybody’s different and people can react in different ways. Some people might not know they’ve got it,” she said. “This is not the flu.”
Read the whole story on the Winston-Salem Journal.
The city is posting daily updates on their website, which from the time of this writing include:
- A Stay At Home order was issued for Winston-Salem, NC, effective 5 pm on Friday, March 27, 2020 until 12:01 am on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
- Suspension of public transit service on route 100 (Union Station to Miller/Stratford shopping centers; WS State, Salem College, and UNCSA).
- All schools are closed through the 2019-20 academic year.
- Gatherings limited to 10 people or less.
- The Winston-Salem Foundation has created a COVID-19 Fund for Forsyth County to support residents suffering from the economic fallout. The city will match up to $1MM donated.
- If you need to do business with the city, most business can be conducted via phone or online. Call CityLink at 311 or 727-8000. Please avoid coming in to city offices if possible.
- To help support gaps in school feeding programs, Winston-Salem’s recreation department is working with Second Harvest Food Bank to offer evening meals for those 18 and under (this is now active and available). Here is a list of dining locations.
- Take advantage of take-out and drive-thru services to support local businesses.
This realtime global map of COVID-19 infections is brought to you by Johns Hopkins University. It lets you drill down all the way to the county level in the U.S. and see confirmed, death, recovered, and active status cases.
Video on coronavirus hygiene advice from the city of Winston-Salem:
The proven technique to rid your hands of COVID-19 illustrated in video:
If you’re worried that the virus will be transmitted via meal delivery services or online orders, this notice from the CDC, FDA and USDA may put you at ease.
Can I Get Coronavirus Through Packaging?
CDC, FDA, and USDA are not aware of any reports at this time that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Current evidence shows the biggest risk of transmission of COVID-19 is being around individuals who are symptomatic… Food businesses should be following employee health policies and health department recommendations to keep these individuals home.
Can I Get Coronavirus By Ingesting It Through Food?
If you consume food that is contaminated with coronavirus, your stomach acid should inactivate the virus since it is very acidic (pH 2.0). Even if your stomach acid did not inactivate the virus, there is no evidence the virus causing COVID-19 can start infecting through the gastrointestinal tract.
The COVID-19 And Food Safety FAQ
The infographic below courtesy of NC State University has more information on COVID-19 and food and packaging safety. You can also find more information on the FDA COVID-19 food safety page.
A Stay At Home order for the city of Winston-Salem has been issued to go into effect at 5pm on Friday, March 27 and running through May 8th. The State of NC moved into Phase 1 of reopening on May 8th and is now into a more limited version of Phase 2, as of May 22, 2020.
What Can I Leave My House For?
All people currently living within the City of Winston-Salem are restricted to stay at their places of residence. People may leave their residences only for:
- Essential Activities
- Essential Governmental Functions
- Operations of Essential Businesses
All Essential Businesses are strongly encouraged to remain open. To the greatest extent feasible, Essential Businesses shall comply with Social Distancing requirements.
Nonessential Business and Operations Must Cease
All businesses and operations in the city are to cease all activities except for:
- Exempted Essential Businesses and Operations
- Minimum Basic Operations (applies to all businesses)
- Working from home
Restrictions on Gatherings
All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. The gathering of members of a household or residence is permitted.
All indoor and outdoor places of public amusement where people may gather, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, playgrounds, recreation centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, movie and other theaters, concert and music halls, and country clubs or social clubs shall be closed to the public.
- Maintain at least a 6-foot social distance from other people.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or use hand sanitizer.
- Cover coughs or sneezes into your sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
- Regularly clean high-touch surfaces.
- Do not shake hands with others.
Outdoor Activities Still Allowed
To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, golfing, running, cycling, or using the greenways. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas. However, playgrounds may increase spread of COVID-19 and, therefore, shall be closed.
Find out more including allowed work activities and travel, guidelines for the elderly and more on the city’s Stay At Home Order Provisions page.
Major Allen Joines declared a state of emergency on March 14th as the cases of COVID-19 in the state began to rise rapidly.
What Does A State Of Emergency Mean?
It allows the city government to impose a variety of restrictions as well as as release emergency state and federal funds to help Winston-Salem cope with the impacts of coronavirus.
Check with your health care provider to see if virtual doctor visits are covered. In most cases they will be, as doctor offices and hospitals try to free up space and beds for patients that are already suffering from the virus. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC, for example, now cover phone and video telehealth services from in-network providers. They are treated the same as an in-office visit. Call your doctor to ask about virtual options, and visit our guide to online doctors and telehealth on our sister site Safe Smart Living for more.
Despite NC hospitals asking for it, as of this writing NC governor Roy Cooper has not issued a shelter in place order for the state yet.
However, several counties have issued their own stay home (aka shelter in place) orders, including the city of Winston-Salem as well as Guilford, Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg Counties.
This video by the Raleigh News & Observer should give you an idea of how fast coronavirus is spreading in North Carolina. Hit the play button to see the virus spread day by day.
Hanes is retrofitting manufacturing capabilities in plants to help produce more masks for the coronavirus effort. Fox 8 coverage reveals that they are working together with Fruit of The Loom, SanMar, Beverly Knits, The National Council of Textile Organizations and other apparel companies to share product specifications and patterns for FDA-approved masks.
Local crafters are also doing their part by staying up late and hand sowing masks. While these may not meet FDA guidelines, “they are a barrier,” says Melissa Vickers of Project Masks Winston-Salem. Melissa says they’ve received over 2,000 orders and counting. She was interviewed by WXII 12 and dubbed “the modern Rosie the Riveter.”
This whole experience of the virus, kids being home, being quarantined, social distancing – there’s a lot of anxiety and sadness, but this brings hope…I’m happy that I can do something.
Melissa says our medical responders don’t have the luxury of saying “I’m tired, I’m done,” so she stays up extra late sowing her masks. She made 10 masks in an hour and a half. Those who want a home-made mask should request so via the Project Mask WS Facebook page.
We’re sure you’ve got questions! Fire away below in our comments and we’ll do our best to address them as quickly as possible.
What’s your biggest concern when it comes to COVID-19?
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