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Article Type: Blog

Assessing Your COVID-19 Risk: Why Rising Numbers Matter

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If you’ve been listening to the news, you’ve probably heard we’re facing a second wave. This means that we’ll likely need to pause on some of the phased re-openings that occurred in the late spring and summer to help prevent more widespread transmission of the virus.  

We can tell a second wave is happening due to a rise in the number of people reporting symptoms and testing positive for the virus. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been very carefully tracking the number of people affected for exactly this reason. 

Why the Number of Cases Are Tracked 

The CDC tracks the number of positive and probable cases and deaths to monitor how rapidly the virus is spreading through different regions and cities in the United States. These numbers help inform how the government and individual states respond to the virus.  

Tracking the number of cases nationally also helps health officials:  

  • Understand the severity of illness and range of symptoms 

  • Understand who is at risk for severe disease and how the virus is transmitted 

  • Monitor changes in the virus that cause illness 

  • Estimate the total number of people infected   

  • Forecast how the virus will spread and the impact it might have  

  • Forecast how the virus might affect health care resources around the country 

How the Data Is Tracked 

To track the cases in the United States, the CDC uses multiple surveillance systems that are run in collaboration with academic, state and territorial partners. To determine the data, the CDC draws from a combination of sources that include existing influenza and viral respiratory disease surveillance, syndromic surveillance, case reporting, commercial lab reporting, the healthcare safety system, ongoing research platforms and other new systems designed to answer specific questions. Together, these systems provide an accurate representation of cases across the country.  

Why Numbers Matter in Fighting the Virus 

Timely data is important for states, cities and local governments so they can quickly see new trends in the number of cases, and use contact tracing to break the chains of transmission. This not only helps protect the public, but also keeps health care workers and other first responders from getting sick.  

Because the number of cases is rising again, states and local governments will examine data in their areas and make decisions about how to best prevent the virus from spreading further. This may include increasing testing, issuing new shelter-in-place orders or closing down certain types of gatherings, schools or businesses.  

What COVID-19 Numbers Are Leaders Watching?  

As the second wave continues, states will review the guidelines from the White House and the CDC that determine whether the virus is on the rise or receding in an area. These are the same criteria that health experts and local and state leaders used to determine when states could reopen: 

  • The number of people reporting flu-like or coronavirus-like symptoms in the last 14 days   

  • The number of documented cases or percentage of positive coronavirus tests in a 14-day period  

When these numbers were in decline, it was a sign that states could start opening up. But when they increased again, it indicated a resurgence in cases. If these numbers are currently on the rise in your community, steps may be enacted to put stronger precautions in place. The measures taken will depend on the severity of the outbreak in your area. 

Another sign that experts are watching is how prepared hospitals are for an outbreak. Health officials become concerned when hospitals don’t have enough resources to care for patients, including offering antibody testing. 

How We’re Keeping You Safe 

When your family needs care, this AdventHealth is the first place you can turn to as a safe haven from the rising pandemic. Because we aren’t just making you feel safe. We’re ensuring you stay protected.  

Our waiting room is cleaned continuously throughout the day, which includes all surfaces and high-touch areas like door handles, light switches, chairs, exam tables and much more. We also provide contactless registration, allowing you to check-in online and wait in your car until you get a text letting you know we’re ready to see you in the exam room.  

Other enhanced safety measures at our facilities include:  

  • All staff wear fresh masks or spatial shields  

  • Visitors are screened for fever with forehead temperature checks upon arrival  

  • Each room is sanitized before and after every patient  

  • All visitors receive a surgical mask to wear during their visit  

  • All staff screened daily for fever   

  • Continuous enhanced sanitation of lobby and waiting areas throughout the day  

  • COVID-19 positive or symptomatic patients quarantined away from patients and visitors in a secure part of the building  

  • Contactless registration allows you to wait in the lobby or in your vehicle, wherever you feel most comfortable  

  • Chairs in the waiting room are placed more than 6 feet apart  

  • Limited number of visitors at facilities  

  • Virtual check-in and check-out available   

What You Can Do 

Experiencing a second wave may feel scary. But as with the first wave of illness in the spring, it’s important to remember there are steps you can take to protect yourself from infection and prevent the spread to others. You can reduce your risk by

  • Avoiding touching your face when your hands are not washed   

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a mask or other face covering whenever you’re around other people 

  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throwing the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow. 

  • Following the advice of your local community or state health experts regarding work from home or shelter-in-place orders  

  • Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, light switches and counters  

  • Staying at least 6 feet away from other people when in public  

  • Staying home if you feel sick  

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in public or coughing or sneezing. When running water is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol  

Your Guide in Moving Forward Confidently  

As we face these challenges together, know we’re always here to support you in body, mind and spirit. Whether you need safe, whole-person care or the latest news and information, we’re with you every step of the way to help navigate the healthiest path forward. 

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