Stay The Course Q&A

Recent pharmaceutical company announcements indicating remarkable vaccine development  have given everyone hope for the future.  The following primer supplements the recently posted  NAP Covid Update to help our understanding of what we can all do in the meantime...

What does “proper time” for getting tested mean?  When one person is exposed to this (or any) virus, the virus needs time to use this person’s cellular material to replicate (make) copies of the virus (generally 5-7 days after exposure) to have enough viral particles present in the nose to show up on the PCR test (the gold standard for confirmation).  This person may or may not show symptoms at this time but can generally be considered infectious by day 3.  Once they have a confirmatory PCR test (on day 5+), they are then considered to be a positive case.

What happens with this “positive case”?  All confirmed cases are posted in the MA Virtual Epidemiologic Network - “MAVEN” with alerts to local public health officials such as the Hatfield  Covid 19 Coordinator.  After assuring that this positive case is in isolation, the comprehensive and meticulous contact tracing investigation needs to begin.   Friends at a private party or members of a school cohort may be examples of potential close contacts who would also need to quarantine and test at the proper time.  If two or more positive cases are exclusively connected at a school, then school transmission is a likely possibility.

At this point, there is no evidence of Covid transmission within Hatfield Public Schools.  However, the recent rapid rise in cases required greatly expanding contact tracing efforts to identify all potential close contacts, including some who had been participating in in-person learning.

When will the vaccines eliminate the virus?  Because viruses mutate and because of global travel (among other reasons), public health officials rarely declare that a virus has been completely eradicated (eliminated).  For example, Officials announced that measles had been eradicated from the U.S. in 2000.  However, U.S. cases have been reported every year since then with increasing Measles Outbreaks reported in many communities.

How will getting a ‘Flu Shot help?   Even though influenza is a different type of virus, it can also produce significant respiratory symptoms, especially in those already at risk.  By getting a ‘flu shot, we can reduce our chances of needing hospitalization at this time when hospitals are overwhelmed with caring for patients who develop Covid illness.

Stay the course & Stay “SMART”.  While we wait for wide scale covid vaccination programs to begin phasing in, it will be important to stay vigilant with the SMART* guidelines  (Space yourself from others. Mask up! Make sure Air is circulating (stay outside or in well-ventilated rooms when inside). Restrict your social circle. Don’t let visits with others last for too much Time).  Additional SMART guidelines apply when we feel sick (Stay home, Make the call to your Primary Health Care Provider (PCP), Avoid spreading germs by frequently washing hands and common surfaces, Restrict access to other household members and wear a mask if you need to be within 6 feet, Test for Covid (& Flu or Strep if recommended by PCP).

SMART Guidelines