Accurate sources of COVID-19 information available online
TAHLEQUAH – As incidence and deaths due to the novel coronavirus mount, the people of the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, United States and world are dealing with levels of uncertainty and worry perhaps not seen in decades.
Unfortunately for many seeking guidance, there is a trove of misinformation and outright fiction to be found online, particularly on social media.
In the CN, those with questions can call W.W. Hastings Hospital, the array of CN Health Services clinics and respective county health departments. For general information and incidence data, the CN website maintains a COVID-19 page with links at health.cherokee.org/corona-virus-covid-19
In his second recorded address concerning the pandemic – posted online March 24 – Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said Health Services confirmed its first COVID-19 patient, who had entered self-quarantine.
“A single test result does not mean only one person contracted the virus,” Hoskin said. “The reality is that the virus is spreading all over our region. This is a serious health crisis that requires everyone’s attention, everyone’s cooperation, everyone’s dedication, so that we can get through this together.”
Hoskin said the CN would follow the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service and Health Services officials to inhibit the spread of the virus.
“Cherokee Nation cannot, and we will not, wait for other jurisdictions to decide how best to protect public health,” he said. “We will remain guided by facts, medical science and compassion. That is why we shut down our hotels and casinos last week. That is why we have reduced our operations to only those functions deemed essential.”
At coronavirus.health.ok.gov, the Oklahoma State Department of Health maintains a COVID-19 page with links – including a “Fact or Fiction – COVID-19 Blog.” One entry acknowledges the strain on testing resources and encourages Oklahomans to use their judgment on whether to get tested.
“…Regardless of the results, common cold, COVID-19 or flu, for the majority of us, a doctor will tell us to stay home, rest, get plenty of fluids, and avoid contact with friends and family until we are fever free and without symptoms, or about 14 days to be cautious,” reads the entry.
The OSDH recommends calling a doctor or the its call center (1-877-215-8336 or 2-1-1) if symptoms worsen. Emergency symptoms are difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse and bluish lips of face.
Otherwise, the department asks those suspecting coronavirus infection to treat themselves at home to allow the availability of more tests and emergency room resources to those at highest risk – including the elderly, pregnant women and the immunocompromised. Underlying medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease and diabetes create a higher risk of serious complications.
The OSDH COVID-19 Call Center is open 24 hours. The site explains that positive tests will initiate an investigation by public health officials, which includes notifying the patient and provider to conduct the investigation along with contact tracing.
Statewide COVID-19 incidence is also reported. As of midday March 25, Oklahoma had 164 confirmed cases with five deaths. Cases in CN counties included two in Adair County, one each in Delaware, Mayes and Muskogee counties, 27 in Tulsa County, and three each in Wagoner and Washington counties.
Coronavirus links are on the front page of cdc.gov. One link leads to recommendations for home treatment of COVID-19.
The CDC page recommends keeping an ill person in one room as much as possible; using a separate bathroom if available; and not sharing dishes, towels or bedding. Those who are sick should wear a facemask. If they are unable, then the caretaker should wear a mask.
The CDC also recommends washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds, particularly after interacting with the ill person. Hand sanitizers of 60% alcohol can be used. Caretakers should avoid touching the face, clean all surfaces that are frequently touched such as tabletops and doorknobs and thoroughly wash laundry. Visitors should be discouraged.
Most people can treat symptoms with over-the-counter cold and flu medications. Symptoms usually subside in a week or less.
The CDC says home quarantine without testing can end when an infected person has not had a fever for 72 hours without aid of a medication, other symptoms have improved and at least a week as passed since symptoms first manifested.
Those who will be tested can end quarantine when they no longer have a fever without the aid of medicine, other symptoms have improved and they have received two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.