Brookings Health System reminds community to stay vigilant

Since June 1, the South Dakota Department of Health has reported 30 total cases of COVID-19 in Brookings County, nearly double the 16 cases from March, April and May combined.

Brookings Health System Infection Preventionist Bunny Christie says it’s important for our community to re-open, but they remind people to make sure they still take the necessary safety precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and prevent a widespread outbreak from happening.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 virus spreads mainly from person-to-person contact. The virus is primarily carried by respiratory droplets which are formed when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs, of people within six feet of the infected person.

Christie says this virus has a high infectivity rate, meaning it’s very easy for people to get. According to Christie, studies have shown people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic can unwittingly transmit COVID-19 to others. To keep the virus spread low, people should continue following the CDC’s recommended infection control precautions.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus. Infection control precautions to prevent exposure include:

Practice good respiratory etiquette and hygiene. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze in your upper sleeve.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Practice social distancing when out in the community by trying to stay six feet away from other people. Do not hug, kiss, shake hands or make other unnecessary contact.
Wear a cloth face covering that snugly covers both your mouth and nose in public settings, especially in situations where you may be closer than six feet to people.
Clean and disinfect high-touch surface areas, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, etc. every day. COVID-19 is easily cleaned by household cleaners or soap and water.
Monitor your health. Be alert for COVID-19 symptoms and take your temperature if symptoms develop.
Stay at home if you’re sick and self-isolate to prevent the spread of illness.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Most people typically experience mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Other symptoms may include:

Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting

“If you experience these symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact your primary care provider right away,” said Christie. “While testing isn’t available for asymptomatic individuals, there are tests available for those who show symptoms.”