As the COVID-19 Pandemic evolves within our communities, Social Distancing is the central public policy behind preventing disease spread. This is why social gathering places are closing, mass transportation has been halted, and all of us are encouraged to stay calm and stay put. In this message, I am sharing additional protective measures to help reduce the spread of the disease. You can learn more by visiting the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/

What follows comes from the cited webpage, modified for what is germane for us.

Always practice Social Distancing and Clean after yourself: maintain a 6-foot distance from you and others when possible. Because this is not possible in all cases, be selective and avoid anyone who may appear or are clearly ill. Also be aware of the space you are in and carry some disinfectant wipes when possible to wipe your chair and table surfaces. This will reduce disease spread.

Recent contact with others within 6 feet for 10 minutes or longer: Identify yourself as “at risk” and become more Self-Aware. This means you begin Self-Observation. Close contact is defined as: Being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time; close contact can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case.

Self-observation means you should remain alert for subjective fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. If you feel feverish or develop cough or difficulty breathing during the 14-day self-observation period, you should take your temperature, self-isolate yourself, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from a healthcare provider, McKinley at 217-333-2700, or your local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed. During this time, you do not have to self-isolate per se, unless you start to develop symptoms. But you should certainly maintain your best practices regarding social distancing.

Self-monitoring means you now have a concern that you ‘aren’t ok’, at least in the moment. Here you should monitor yourselves for fever by taking your temperatures twice a day and remain alert for cough or difficulty breathing. If you feel feverish or develop measured fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period, you should self-isolate, limit contact with others, and seek advice by telephone from your healthcare provider or their local health department to determine whether medical evaluation is needed. Very likely you will just be instructed to continue the self-monitoring. Do Not show up at a local ED, urgent care, or McKinley without calling and making arrangements first!

Self-monitoring with delegated supervision is the next step that follows a conversation with your health care or public health provider. This means self-monitoring with oversight by the appropriate medical or public health personnel. This communication should result in agreement on a plan for medical evaluation should your symptoms worsen regarding fever, cough, or difficulty breathing during the self-monitoring period. At McKinley, this means you will be followed by a nurse and will report your condition daily. McKinley will coordinate your name and location with public health as believed appropriate. You will, during this period, remain socially distanced and self-quarantined. Should your symptoms worsen, transportation arrangements to a pre-designated hospital, if medically necessary, should be arranged with advance notice. Plan to articulate your personal situation regarding travel, fever, cough, or difficulty breathing with the receiving hospital.

Active monitoring means you’ve been seen by a healthcare provider and very likely have qualified for testing. Very likely the state or local public health authority has assumed responsibility for establishing regular communication to assess for the worsening of fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. For people with high-risk exposures, CDC recommends this communication occurs at least once each day. Active monitoring may be outpatient with self-quarantine or it could be inpatient, in an isolation environment.

Your understanding and practice of these measures is important for reducing disease spread and for reducing the strain on scarce healthcare resources. The current pandemic is likely to go on for several more months at least. Eventually the public will develop immunity and be able to live normal lives again. The current problem is ‘novel’ because most of us do not have natural immunity by way of having had the disease or through vaccination.

Thank you again for all you are doing to keep yourself and each other safe! You can reach us at studenthealthcenter@illinois.edu. Let me know if you have questions.

Robert C. Parker, MD, MBA, FACP
Director, McKinley Health Center
University of Illinois – Urbana

Date: 
Monday, March 16, 2020 - 17:00