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DIDHD: Take steps to avoid spreading COVID-19 in region

The Dickinson-Iron District Health Department would like to remind the public to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

COVID-19 is spread mainly among people who are in close contact with one another. Approximately 30% of the COVID-19 cases in the Upper Peninsula have felt healthy and remain without symptoms during the period of time they are infectious to others. It is important to understand that the virus can be spread even when symptoms are not yet present. Not everyone will have the same reaction to the virus; some reactions may be more serious in others, while some people remain without symptoms.

There are simple steps the public can take to decrease the spread and likelihood of contracting the disease.

First, wear a mask when out in public. Wearing a cotton mask can reduce the risk of spreading the virus by 70%. COVID-19 is spread to others through infectious particles carried in droplets naturally produced by humans when interacting with others. Everyone has droplets in their coughs and sneezes. What people may not know is that droplets may also spread when talking, singing or even when you raise your voice.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

If you are unable to wear a mask, you should minimize public interactions whenever possible or social distance when possible.

Second, DIDHD urges you to avoid large gatherings and social distance whenever possible. It’s important to remember, the more people you come in contact with, you are putting yourself at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Scientific studies show that a cough can spray droplets at least 6 feet; a sneeze can carry droplets as far as 27 feet. This is why it is so important to cover coughs and sneezes, not only during a pandemic but always. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even household members when possible.

Third, use good hand hygiene. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It is especially important to wash before eating or preparing food, before touching your face; after using the restroom; after leaving a public place; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after handling your cloth face covering; after changing a diaper; after caring for someone sick; and after touching animals or pets. If soap and water is not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Lastly, monitor your health daily. Be alert and mindful; watch for symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea. If symptoms develop, contact your primary care provider.

For additional tips on preventing COVID-19, please turn to reliable sources such as www.michigan.gov/coronavirus and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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