Facts and information about the coronavirus pandemic are constantly changing. Visit the CDC site for the most up-to-date information during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The response to the coronavirus outbreak in the spring of 2020 transformed daily life. Nonessential businesses closed, schools pivoted to remote learning, and many people started working from home. Concerts and sporting events were canceled, and people were being advised to stay home unless running essential errands or going to essential jobs.
We have since seen some of the things that give us a sense of normalcy return. Maybe you’ve gone to a restaurant to celebrate an occasion, your children are back in school, or you’ve resumed working in the office. While these are things that we did before the pandemic, it doesn’t mean we can resume living life the way we did before the coronavirus outbreak.
Arkansas is still seeing new COVID-19 cases every day. We must continue making efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until the virus is no longer a threat to public safety.
When does a pandemic end?
The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people”.
An epidemic is defined as “the occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy”.
This means that there may be a point at which the coronavirus outbreak is no longer considered a global pandemic, but parts of the world continue to deal with the virus on an epidemic scale.
We can’t know with certainty when coronavirus will stop spreading in the United States. Everyone must continue doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until the population is protected from SARS-CoV-2 and the virus is no longer prevalent in communities.
The best way to prevent viral infections is with a vaccine. However, without a readily available vaccine for COVID-19, the next best thing is preventive action.
What will cold and flu season bring?
There’s still much that we don’t know about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. We’re not sure what the long-term effects of the disease may be, and we don’t really know what will happen this fall and winter.
There’s the possibility of an increase in COVID-19 cases this flu season. Colder temperatures and fewer hours of daylight mean that people spend more time indoors in close proximity to one another.
Less social distancing means that the risk of spreading coronavirus and other communicable illnesses — such as the flu — increases. Both coronavirus and flu viruses will be present in our communities. This makes flu shots especially important this year.
The CDC states, “It’s likely that flu viruses and the virus that causes COVID-19 will both spread this fall and winter. Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever. ”
Continue doing your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19
A decrease in new cases, businesses re-opening, and a return to normalcy can create a false sense of security.
The United States is still high risk for COVID-19. While some states are managing cases better than others, the risk is not zero anywhere in the U.S. Continue taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 even if cases appear to be slowing down in your community.
The CDC still advises against nonessential travel both international and within the U.S. COVID-19 risk is high for most of the world at the moment.
Basic prevention for COVID-19:
- Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds; do this often.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
- Maintain physical distance — outside is better than inside.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Stay home if you’re sick. It can be difficult or impossible to determine the cause of your illness based on symptoms alone; stay home if you’re not feeling well.
- Wear a mask while in public, even if you feel healthy and you have no symptoms. Masks are a simple, safe, and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Remember, it’s possible to spread coronavirus even if you do not have any signs or symptoms of illness.
Everyone is eagerly awaiting a vaccine for COVID-19. While vaccines are the most effective tool we have for preventing viral infections, a vaccine won’t replace the need for these preventative measures.
We vaccinate against influenza viruses each year, and people are still encouraged to wash hands, avoid touching faces with unwashed hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home when sick.
As long as coronavirus is present in our community we must all do our part to help prevent the spread of the virus. Wash your hands, maintain physical distance between yourself and others, wear a mask in public places, and stay home if you are sick.
Monitor your symptoms and contact your doctor if you are feeling ill.