Navigating the Current Landscape of Respiratory Illnesses in Central Nebraska
By Brady Beecham, MD, MPH, CMO at Gothenburg Health
As winter settles in central Nebraska, we are grappling with not only an ongoing surge of COVID-19 but also the resurgence of influenza and other respiratory ailments. The good news is that while these viruses are here to stay, hospitalization rates are currently lower, thanks to a combination of immunity and shifts in the virus.
Recent observations suggest that the potency of the virus has slightly lessened and that we have gained immunity through vaccinations and previous infections. However, that the situation can change and even “mild” COVID is no fun. The first step to prevent infection is updating your vaccine and trying to avoid infection through masking and handwashing.
A silver lining in the fight against COVID-19 is the shift toward personal responsibility. While mandates were initially in place, the current approach emphasizes individual accountability. It is now more crucial than ever for each of us to exhibit personal responsibility and genuine concern for the well-being of others.
If you do become sick, the first five days after symptom onset are likely the most infectious period. Hence, staying home during this time and wearing a mask remain pivotal in curbing transmission. Masks are a great tool in preventing the spread of respiratory diseases, acting as a safeguard for both the wearer and those around them.
For most people, COVID is treated with rest, fluid and over the counter medications, however individuals over 65 and those with common conditions like smoking, pregnancy, diabetes, or lung disease fall into the high-risk category and should consider a COVID specific medication which works best when started early. Those uncertain about their risk or experiencing severe symptoms, especially difficulty breathing, should seek evaluation from a healthcare provider.
In this effort to protect ourselves and those more vulnerable, fostering a sense of camaraderie is vital. By adhering to preventive measures like wearing masks, practicing good hand hygiene, and staying home when unwell, we can minimize the impact of these respiratory illnesses on our community. In Nebraska, as elsewhere, the path forward lies in our commitment to shared well-being and a resilient spirit. Stay well.