April 8, 2020: Public Health Update

From: Tom McLarney, MD
Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 at 1:26 PM
Subject: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan community,

Wishing you all health and safety during this tumultuous time.

Since our last update, the CDC has made new recommendations regarding face masks. These are the key points to know:

  1. Masks should be worn when going out in the public such as grocery shopping or trips to the pharmacy. This also applies to students on campus picking up their take-out meals.
  1. The current recommendations are based on evidence that a person can be infectious with COVID-19 one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms. Masks are also recommended to prevent the spread of coronavirus from an asymptomatic carrier, as a significant percentage those infected may never experience symptoms.
  1. Due to the shortage of N-95 masks (and others) which protect our health care workers from contracting COVID-19 from their patients, simple cloth masks are believed to be sufficient to wear in public.
  1. The CDC website has instructions on how to make your own masks from a T-shirt or a bandana.
  1. These masks can be reused after washing in the hottest cycle on your washing machine.
  1. When removing your mask, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  1. The concern with masks is that they are NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PHYSICAL/SOCIAL DISTANCING. All the prior recommendations still apply: avoid groups of more than five people, and maintain six feet of distance between people.

Another topic I will keep reinforcing is physical/social distancing. This is one of our most effective methods of halting the spread of COVID, yet I see people not adhering to this recommendation on a daily basis. While distancing is hard for all of us, it is absolutely crucial to slow down and eventually stop the rapidly progressing course that we are in the midst of.

Lastly, I want to make you aware of a variety of scams that have been proliferating lately. Some of these involve callers who identify themselves as being with the CDC, and ask for personal information or donations. Please be wary of any number that you do not recognize, and be suspicious even if it’s a number you do recognize for a person you are expecting to call. Please also be aware of phishing scams, and do not open any messages that seem suspicious or seek personal information. Finally, there are reports of people setting up COVID “testing stations” and charging money for fake tests.

In closing, as I wrote in last week’s advisory, it is hard for any of us to deal with isolation, and our emotional health is just as important as our physical health. Keep on doing things that give you happiness, and distract you from the current situation while maintaining health precautions. In this age of technology, there are so many ways to connect with our friends and loved ones.

Stay well and be safe,

Tom McLarney

Medical Director