On Dec. 31, 2019, as people across the world were gearing up to welcome a new decade, a pneumonia of unknown cause was reported in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, China. On Jan. 13, the first case of coronavirus was reported outside China in Thailand. Since then, the COVID-19 coronavirus has crossed international borders and has spread to all continents except Antarctica. As I write this, more than 215,000 people worldwide have been confirmed to have this virus and, for about 9,000 of them, it has been fatal.
The socioeconomic and emotional implications as a result of the coronavirus pandemic continue to manifest each passing day. On March 13, the city of Santa Clarita issued an emergency declaration to suspend all nonessential city services and close city facilities. As of today, most colleges, schools, bars, pubs and offices are closed across the country. People who have the option to work from home are doing that. Universities and colleges have started online studies.
Elected officials and their health and safety offices have been advising appropriate precautions and measures to the public as to what must be done as the number of cases continues to increase exponentially. Countries across the world continue to enact travel restrictions and limitations, and close schools, religious institutes, shops and businesses, and lock down their borders.
For my friends and neighbors in the city of Santa Clarita, it is imperative that we continue to work together to flatten the “pandemic curve.” This can be done through the practice of social distancing, which will slow down the spread of virus and thus slow the number of people being infected exponentially, which can easily overburden the health institutions. This will give enough time to our hospitals to manage the patients of all ages in the best possible manner and thus hopefully getting the best treatment results.
Please follow the instructions issued by health officials, including our own Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
1. Please wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
2. Use hand sanitizer consisting of at least 60% alcohol if soap is not available.
3. Clean surfaces and items that we use commonly with disinfectants (this can include steering wheels, smartphones, TV remotes, refrigerator doors, door knobs, etc).
If you are having symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty breathing, contact your health provider and follow their advice. Another great resource is www.cdc.gov.
Friends, the situation is unprecedented and challenging to say the least, but with challenges, there is always an opportunity to figure out the solutions. “Social distancing” does not mean social withdrawal. This is an opportunity to spend a lot of time with your children, do interesting projects with them, watch their favorite movies, and try out some new recipes. This might be a good time to catch up with old friends on the phone, video chatting, listening to your favorite movies or shows and reading that book that you always wanted to.
We are a resilient community and country and have overcome worse situations We should all remain cautious but not panic. Maintaining and elevating our immunity is very important and stress and panic are certainly not friends of our immune system.
We are all in this together! This city came together four months ago out of compassion for one another following the tragedy at Saugus High School. As we face this pandemic together, I am sure we will continue to stay strong by putting aside our differences and help each other.
Stay strong, stay humble, wash your hands and maintain social distancing, my friends!
Dr. Aakash Ahuja