The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are recommending several steps to slow the rate of transmission of coronavirus.
A major goal of these steps is what epidemiologists call flattening the curve, or attempting to slow the spread of the virus to prevent the health care system from exceeding its capacity. The idea is to increase social distancing to mitigate the rate of transmission so that hospitals are not overwhelmed and will avoid shortages of beds and ventilators.
About 15% of COVID-19 patients need hospital-level care and 5% need to be treated in an intensive care unit, according to the Minnesota Hospital Association. Hospitals in the Twin Cities metro have about 500 total ICU beds and 450 respirators.
Here are some strategies being recommended by the MDH and the CDC..
- Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
- Cancel or postpone smaller events in smaller venues that do not allow for social distancing of 6 feet per person.
- Stay at home if you are sick and call your health care provider’s office before you go in. You can get a free telemedicine visit for upper respiratory infection symptoms through M Health Fairview at OnCare.org. Officials ask you do not call 911 just because you think you may have COVID-19.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and clean heavily used surfaces frequently.
- People in high-risk groups, including older people and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, are more likely to develop a serious COVID-19 illness. If you’re in one of those groups, stock up on food and medical supplies, avoid crowds and stay home as much as possible.
- Cancel interstate and international travel.
- Develop a preparation plan to stay at home in case of an illness in the household or disruption of daily activities due to the virus including:
- Consider acquiring a two-week supply of food, prescription and over-the-counter medications and other essentials.
- Establish plans to telework if possible and to adjust for closures to child care facilities.
- Share emergency plans with family, friends and colleagues.