Safeguard yourself from coronavirus this holiday season

by Jo Anne Embleton

The Christmas holiday is a time for gatherings and celebrations, but a national pandemic declared in March has people rethinking how to be together in a smarter, safer way.

The first is to be mindful of symptoms of COVID-19, which may include:

○ Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher when taken by mouth;

○ Sore throat;

○ New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing (or, for students with a chronic allergic/asthmatic cough, a change in their cough from baseline);

○ Diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain; or

○ New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever.

Individuals are encouraged to contact their physician if experiencing these symptoms in a way that is not typical.

However, the best defense – as any coach will tell you – is a good offense.

“Wearing masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing may contribute not only to the prevention of COVID-19 but also to the decline of other respiratory infectious diseases,” according to a medical study published online by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

In terms of COVID-19, good a defensive plan utilizes face coverings that covers nose and mouth; practicing social distancing in which you are six feet from the nearest person; and keeping your hands clean.

The CDC also advises using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol or washing with soap and water for 20 seconds – about the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” or recite the Lord’s Prayer.

While the virus has impacted a number of people, locally, the COVID-19 recovery rate is xxx percent in Cherokee County, according to data issued Tuesday – the most current available as of press time – by local health officials.

As of Dec. 22, Cherokee County Public Health Department officials have reported 145 confirmed active cases COVID-19 in the county, of which 100 are positive confirmed cases.

Overall, there have been a reported total of 2,933 confirmed cases in the county since mid-March, with the highest number – 1,505, or approximately half – reported in Jacksonville.

The latest data indicates that 2,756 of the overall reported cases – 93.9 percent – primarily are recoveries.

According to the Texas Department of Health & Human Services’ most recent figures, released Sunday afternoon, there are 69 COVID-related deaths in Cherokee County, of which 29 are confirmed by local health officials.