UPDATED - 94 positive cases in COVID-19 Update, tackling misinformation
UPDATED Friday, July 31. 2020 at noon:
Clay County now has 94 cases per the Indiana State Department of Health. Log onto https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/ to keep up-to-date with daily COVID-19 data throughout Indiana, the Wabash Valley Dist 7, and Clay County.
Hoosiers are being urged “to be on their best behavior” as the Stage 4.5 of Indiana’s Back On Track opening plan continues until August 27.
“I want to be safe, not sorry,” said Gov. Eric Holcomb at Wednesday’s media briefing about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be inching toward another rise. “We’re hopeful, but we have to do everything we can. This virus will take what we give it.”
Holcomb says he is optimistic by nature; however, the COVID-19 virus is apparently on the rise and spreading throughout Indiana. Holcomb believes implementing the recent face-covering requirements last week, and encouraging people to follow social distancing recommendations and proper hygiene that the goal of suppressing the spread of the virus is possible, “I think we can get there.”
During the first wave of the pandemic, health officials from around the world cited countries implementing the early use of face coverings more successfully than others as reducing the spread of the virus. Many Americans, including Hoosiers, don’t believe the virus is a health crisis worth the “hype” it has received, and face coverings should not be mandated.
Another problem is an abundance of false information circulating on the internet and social media about COVID-19. Much of it made to look official, so it’s important to know what’s real and what’s not.
When evaluating information online, members of the public and reputable media outlets use trusted sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Mayo Clinic, or reputable medical organizations sharing it with others.
However, scientific data can be “doctored” using several apps and computer programs to look official.
Many official organizations involved in the COVID-19 crisis have fell victim to this during the pandemic.
If a post makes a scientific or medical claim and attributes it to a specific source, such as Johns Hopkins, try verifying the information through the organization’s publicly available resources.
“We have seen rumors and misinformation circulating on social around the coronavirus and have received questions from many of you about these posts,” Johns Hopkins University and Medicine put in a statement in April after accredited for a summary of COVID-19 data that was shared around the world through email and social media site, but later determined not connected to the school. “Rumors and misinformation like this can easily circulate in communities during a crisis. The rumors that we have seen in greater volumes are those citing a Johns Hopkins immunologist and infectious disease expert. We do not know the origin of these rumors, and they lack credibility.”
During a crisis, experts agree that it is normal for people to want and look for information, and they want to share it with others to help. However, it is crucial to be skeptical and do some fact-checking before doing so. Misleading information brings an unimaginable cost because it leads people to think they’re protected when they’re not, can encourage people to take risky actions, or do things they shouldn’t.
Backlash over face coverings has been a hot topic since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
“If you choose not to wear a mask when you’re out in public, you are not putting just yourself at risk. You’re putting your friends, your family, your elderly neighbor, and anyone you come in contact with potentially at risk,” explained State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box recently. “We have people in this state who unknowingly gave COVID-19 to someone who tragically died from this illness. That’s a heavy burden to carry, and it’s one that I don’t wish on any Hoosier.”
That frustration about the public backlash over the following mandates issued during the pandemic is why Gov. Holcomb recently asked Hoosiers “to be on their best behavior” and saying, “I want to be safe, not sorry. We’re hopeful, but we have to do everything we can. This virus will take what we give it. It is incumbent on us to be on our best behavior.”
The Times gathered a few topics being discussed in the community and set out to find official sources to determine the FACT or FICTION of the story, including:
OSHA says NO to face coverings
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the United States Department of Labor, does note “cloth face coverings are not considered PPE and cannot be used in place of respirators when respirators are otherwise required” on its website (www.osha.com). However, OSHA recommends employers encourage workers to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and cloth face coverings at many types of employment, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.
OSHA cites the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the source for its stance on the use of face coverings, which are “intended to prevent wearers who have Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) without knowing it (i.e., those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic) from spreading potentially infectious respiratory droplets to others.”
OSHA also supports the CDC recommendation for all people to wear cloth face coverings when in public and around other people when social distancing is difficult. Wearing cloth face coverings, if appropriate for the work environment and job tasks, are useful because this conserves different types of PPE, such as surgical masks, so it can be utilized where needed most.
Face coverings are not PPE, and they don’t work
The main argument (other than a person has a right not to wear a mask if they don’t want to) in the face-covering debate is that cloth masks aren’t effective because they can’t properly filter out tiny viral particles.
Health officials at the CDC, Who, and the Indiana State Department of Health confirm most of these particles upon leaving the mouth and nose of a COVID-19 patient are much larger droplets than the virus. The virus travels potentially up to 30 feet on those particles, becoming smaller through evaporation as they move away or remain alive (depending upon conditions) floating around for up to 30 hours until the virus finds a new host to infect.
Trapping droplets within a face covering or mask means the number of viral particles allowed to escape is limited. When people in gatherings are correctly wearing a face covering over their mouth and nose, it provides an extra layer of safety for everyone.
The more people who wear a face covering, according to health officials, the better containment of the virus is possible, otherwise known as Source Containment.
The government doesn’t have a right to issue mandates to the public
Emergency management is the process of coordinating available resources to deal with emergencies effectively when they arise, thereby saving lives, avoiding injury, and minimizing economic loss.
It all started at the federal level when Congress created the Civil Defense by enacting the Civil Defense Act of 1950. The Act was amended in 1979 and created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Indiana, like the other states in the US, enacted laws that provided for disaster planning and response. Title 10 of the Indiana Code created a State Emergency Management Agency and mandates that every jurisdiction within the state is protected by a local (preferably a countywide) emergency management agency, and Clay County has its own.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) works through Emergency Medical Services, which helps first responders provide emergency medical care to Hoosiers more than 2,000 times per day.
Indiana State Department of Health, as well as local county health departments, are coordinating and working with IDHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are rules during a designation for a state of disaster emergency. Indiana Code Title 10 is about Public Safety. Article 14 in that Title is about Emergency Management, and Chapter 3 deals with Emergency Management Laws.
Once a state of disaster has been issued, the role of a governor and his emergency legal duties are outlined in Section 11 of Chapter 3. According to IC 10-14-3-11 (b – 3), the governor shall “Take any action and give any direction to state and local law enforcement officers and agencies as may be reasonable and necessary for securing compliance with this chapter and with any orders, rules, and regulations made under this chapter.”
IC 10-14-3-34 deals with Offenses during a state of emergency. Sec. 34 - A person who knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly violates this chapter commits a Class B misdemeanor, which is potentially punishable if convicted with up to $1,000 in fines and 180 days in jail.
Face coverings aren’t mandated everywhere
Hoosiers now join with residents in more than 40 other states and the District of Columbia with face mask/covering mandates as a preventative measure. Iowa has not reported any directives regarding face coverings at the time this article was written.
Many of the remaining states, including Alaska, Idaho, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, are recommending that everyone wear a cloth face-covering in public settings where social distancing measure are difficult to maintain.
As health officials voice concern the second wave of COVID-19 is on the horizon, masks and face covers, whether store-bought or homemade, are essential to prevent this disease from spreading. Washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and keeping at least 6 feet apart are still vitally important in containing the coronavirus spreading throughout Indiana, the US, and the world.