In the April 2nd update to the community, Dr. Niedbalski urges social and physical distancing, additional new positive cases, and safe shopping guidelines.
From the public health point of view, we continue to stress the need to follow guidelines regarding social distancing. This applies whether you are at work, at the grocery store, or outside enjoying a walk. The governor’s stay at home order continues until April 7th. For this reason, I am encouraging everybody to stay at home as much as possible & remain isolated from others except for essential needs. This is the primary way that we can all work together & prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. A little bit of sacrifice now is going to pay major dividends in the long run. The more we distance ourselves from others, the sooner we can get back to a sense of normalcy.
We are still witnessing people in close proximity at groceries & big box stores. I would like to encourage shoppers to do their part. This would include sending only one family member to the store at a time, space yourself out from other shoppers, limit your trips to the store to once every 2 weeks if possible, do not shop if you are not feeling well, wash your hands thoroughly before and after your trip to the store, use wipes to wipe down your shopping cart before and after shopping, don’t touch items that you don’t intend to buy, use curbside pickup for groceries if possible, use a payment app or debit card to avoid using cash, keep non-perishable items outside your home for 3 days and wipe down or rinse off other items before putting them away. We are also encouraging the elderly population and others at increased risk to avoid stores. Ask someone else to handle your grocery list for you. Lastly, wear disposable gloves and consider wearing a mask if you have one, and don’t touch your face. We are also providing guidelines for stores on making the consumer’s trip as safe as possible.
We have been seeing a gradual increase in reported cases locally, and this is a scenario that we have expected. Please continue to be aware that there are more people infected than are showing up in our recorded numbers. Low risk individuals have been asked to continue to isolate themselves & assume they have COVID-19 since we are limited on testing. As more tests do become available, those positive cases are going to continue to rise. Unfortunately, the timing of the peak in cases is unknown locally or nationally. This is even more reason that we should try to remain isolated from those outside our own households, so we reduce the odds of transmission of the virus.
Recently, the surgeon general labeled Indianapolis, along with several other major metropolitan areas nationwide, as emerging hotspots for COVID-19. A larger city obviously has a denser population. With more people living near one another, the odds of personal interaction & transmission of the virus increases. Unfortunately, we are seeing a rapid rise in cases in Marion County as well as its adjoining counties. We need to realize that we are only about 30 miles from the Indianapolis area, so we should be doing our part here in Columbus. Our primary goal is to “flatten the curve”. Instead of a rapid, large, short-lived peak in cases which would overwhelm our health system, we are shooting for a longer & flatter curve which is more spread out.
I do want to take time to acknowledge all in the community, especially small businesses, who have already been making a major sacrifice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. I understand how this must be exacting a financial, emotional, & mental toll on many of you. We will be working to get all businesses open as soon as we feel it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, we cannot give an exact date at this time. The sooner everyone buys into the concept of social distancing, the sooner we can get back to business. Stay home and stay safe Columbus.