By Julie Khanna
I think most of us can agree that keeping up with COVID-19 has been mentally exhausting and the thought of some finality to it all sounds refreshing and welcome. But what if we are prematurely letting our hair down and hanging our masks up?
“I think we are all drained. It’s been consuming for everyone. Unfortunately, the cases in Palm Beach County are currently on the rise and it’s still very much prevalent. We have to push on and take proper precautions. We cannot misinterpret things re-opening to mean we are in the clear,” says Dr. Ramprasad Gopalan, a local infectious disease doctor who sees patients in seven of the county’s hospitals, including Wellington Regional Medical Center and Palms West Hospital.
Part of pushing forward means adjusting our attire. Multiple times a day Dr. Gopalan dons a knee length gown, an N-95 mask in addition to a full plastic face shield, a head cover that resembles a paper bonnet, shoe covers and gloves to go inside positive rooms in the COVID units. As the community reopens, he asks that we continue to don our cloth face coverings in public settings, as recommended by himself and the CDC. “The mask may not necessarily protect the one wearing it but it may help prevent the spread particularly if the wearer is positive. Keep in mind there are many asymptomatic people who are positive. They themselves may not know they are positive,” says Dr. Gopalan, owner of First Class Medicine. Other precautions include maintaining a safe social distance and proper handwashing.
Not everyone is ready to get back out there and that’s okay too. “There are a gamut of emotions associated with COVID-19. Some are anxious to get back out and others are afraid to rejoin day to day activities. I think the upcoming 3-4 weeks will be very telling in terms of the curve and the trend. If you are too anxious, and are able to continue quarantining or minimize going out, then it’s perfectly fine to watch and wait. However, when we get to the point of time that COVID-19 warnings have been lifted and the community is fully operational and you are still feeling too anxious to rejoin community activities, then you may need to speak to your doctor or seek mental health guidance. We cannot discount that this situation has been traumatic on some,” adds Dr. Gopalan.
While everyone is coping with COVID in their individual way Dr. Gopalan says the patients inside of our local hospitals, and throughout the county, have done considerably well. He credits the nurses and staff. “Wellington Regional Medical Center and Palms West Hospital have handled this efficiently and with compassion. The nurses and staff were very mindful of the apprehensions and panic that COVID patients were experiencing, especially in the early phases when there was a lot of fear of the unknown, and took care not to add to the hysteria. As people became more familiar with COVID, or possibly even knew someone who had it, the general population of positive patients seemed more at ease and confident.” Most positive patients do not require hospitalization and are able to safely care for themselves at home.
It is important to continue to monitor yourself for symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness or breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea and to contact your healthcare provider right away should you experience any of these symptoms. Alert your emergency department for acute symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips of face.
Those without symptoms, and that are ready to reopen, can take a deep breath (from 6 feet away, of course), pull up your masks, wash your hands and prepare to rejoin the community safely with the aforementioned precautions as it opens to the public.
Julie Khanna is the owner of Khanna Connections, a marketing, communications and relations firm with a niche in the medical, health and wellness industries.