As we heard Tuesday night, the first case of coronavirus disease has been confirmed by hospital officials in Del Rio. The news can be both disappointing or uplifting, depending upon your point of view.
What can be positive about this situation, when COVID-19 is claiming the lives of thousands of people worldwide? Readers may ask. Well, there is nothing positive about people getting sick, but there is something really positive when someone who is sick is being diagnosed and treated. Diagnosing somebody not only helps the patient get the much-needed medical care, it also helps to isolate them and track others who may have been in contact with the patient.
The number of cases reported and confirmed nationwide and in Texas has skyrocketed over the last few weeks, but so has the number of individuals tested. So, the more people we test, the more positives we’ll be getting.
A few other things we also need to consider are: only severe cases are being hospitalized, and only the most severe are being reported on. Why does that matter? Because there may be people out there going out and about with mild or no symptoms at all, just continuing on with their lives – as much as possible under current stay-at-home statewide and local orders.
With this I am not trying to scream “fire” in a crowded theater, I am trying to say that although this is a potentially deadly disease, some people carrying it may not even know they had it.
I am not trying to give out medical advise here, just trying to apply common sense to this ever-growing chaos.
The potential or the severity of the newly discovered COVID-19 should not be downplayed. I am, like many others, trying to make sense of the situation by looking at the whole picture.
The only way to measure the potential and reach of a pandemic, is to keep count of the cases, recoveries and fatalities. It is impossible to test each and every single member of a community at the same time, to separate the healthy from the ill and to make sure they don’t move around.
The mild or asymptomatic cases, in reality, will never make it to the charts.
I’ve seen people asking health officials to release the names of those diagnosed with COVID-19 to keep track of their contacts, but since 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) grants you rights on the use and disclosure of protected health information for treatment, payment, and healthcare operations.
Hospital and elected officials are releasing as much information as they can, and we at the News-Herald, are trying to keep everyone updated with the latest information.
Nation and worldwide, public personalities have made their diagnosis public. As I write these lines I hear Prince Charles, a member of the British royalty, has tested positive for COVID-19. Other positives include actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, and several NBA players including Kevin Durant.
In a way, keeping up with these cases will help the general public to gain a sense of what this newly discovered disease is really like. Seeing some of these public figures coming back from it will be really uplifting and refreshing.
Since the discovery of COVID-19 everything has been down the hill, with more and more countries and states across the U.S. reporting cases, but we will be soon hearing the positive news, as we start learning more and more about the disease.
Locally, a group of Del Rioans with plenty of time on their hands now that students are homebound and most jobs are temporarily suspended, started out a sewing group dedicated to sewing face masks which will be donated to first responders.
The initiative drew criticism from nay-sayers questioning the effectivity of the masks and saying that masks only give a false sense of security. But properly trained first responders will know when it’s safe to use those masks and when higher grade personal safety equipment is needed. Even is the face masks are never used, the fact that manufacturing them helped some members of the community to keep busy and stay at home, is more than enough.
Rubén Cantú has been a journalist since 1995. He is the managing editor of the Del Rio News-Herald. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org