HJAR May/Jun 2020

44 MAY / JUN 2020 I  HEALTHCARE JOURNAL OF ARKANSAS DIRECTOR’S DESK ALOGUE COLUMN DIRECTOR’S DESK The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has rapidly evolved since the first case was reported in December 2019. Everyone needs to know what to look for, what action to take, and what resources are available in your community. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. The virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, such as the common cold. The new virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who have physical contact with one another, and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (within about 6 feet). Currently, there is not a vaccine available to prevent COVID-19, and there is not a specific treatment for COVID-19. There is also no antibiotic effective in preventing or treating COVID-19 because it is caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and may appear anywhere from 2–14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness requiring hospitalization, and in some cases, death. Emergency warning signs that a person needs immediate medical attention include difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. The first case of COVID-19 was reported outside of China on January 13. The first case in the United States was confirmed seven days later. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern on COVID-19: What You Need to Know January 30 as COVID-19 spread rapidly. By March 18, there were nearly 200,000 cases confirmed worldwide. The WHO website (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/ novel-coronavirus-2019) is the best place to find up to date numbers of cases and deaths in the world. For U.S. cases and deaths, the best source is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website (www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus). In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 11. More cases were reported in the subsequent days leading to the activation of the state’s emergency operation center and the temporary closing of public schools and other public sites to