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Letter to the Editor: What to do at first signs of COVID

Two significant pieces of anecdotal information about Covid-19 I have gleaned from my readings these past months:

1. When there is not rigorous and high volume testing being performed in a city, state, or nation, the infection rate is actually 10 times what is the official reported rate. This probably applies to Plumas County. If we have 23 reported infections, we likely actually have 230 infections, with most of the other 207 being asymptomatic carriers. Of the 207 asymptomatics, probably 10-20 percent are contagious. WHO reports that, on average, every infected person passes the infection on to 2.5 persons (versus 1.4 persons for the common cold).

2. A frequent story I have read, since the beginning of the pandemic, from persons of all ages in multiple countries, including a 30-year-old Olympic swimmer in Italy, and a 34-year-old USA healthcare worker:

“I had very mild symptoms, a slight cough or headache, not even enough to really slow me down. These symptoms went away after two to three days, and I resumed my normal life. Five days later I woke up and could not breathe. By night I was on a ventillator and fighting for my life.”

The lesson here is the fundamental reason why Covid-19 has proven so elusive and deadly — it is a sleeper disease, which on first appearance, is so mild that most people ignore the symptoms (on the individual level, on the family level, and on the societal/national level). As the virus establishes itself in the lungs, and likely when an infected person is most contagious, the body is capable of appearing normal and healthy. But, eventually there comes a tipping point where the virus overwhelms the lungs, shortens the supply of oxygen to multiple vital organs, blood clots develop in many of these organs, and death, or near death occurs within 24-48 hours. So, at the first sign of any Covid-19 symptom, it is important for the person to rest, drink fluids, get tested, prepare in home support for a quarantine, and prepare for transportation to a local hospital if symptoms grow worse.

Ken Donnell


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