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Monica's Take: Do not forget the power of COVID-19

3News' Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins provides perspective as many dismiss the threat of coronavirus.

CLEVELAND — We’re all tired of the impact COVID-19 has had on our lives. 

From the economy to personal freedoms, it has seeped into nearly every fiber of our own worlds. I know many of you don’t believe this is even a crisis because most people survive it or perhaps not as many people died from it as was originally predicted.  

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But let me remind you that every one of those numbers represents a human being. Somebody’s mom, dad, grandparent, brother sister, co-worker or friend. And yes, those who are at higher risk for worse complications are over age fifty.  

But how would you feel if that person was someone you cared about?  

There are three things about this virus we need to remember. 

•  We’ve never seen a virus behave like this one. It doesn’t impact people the same way and there’s no way to predict what direction an infection will take. For some, it’s no worse than a mild cold, for others it could be days or weeks on a ventilator. In one household, one person could lose their sense of taste and smell, another might suffer headache and fatigue, another may deal with blood clots and another might suffer lung damage that may be permanent.  

•  It will be some time before we can accurately know the true COVID-19 death rate. But the most recent numbers from the CDC for flu show that in 2017, just over 2,200 died from influenza in Ohio. More than five thousand have died from COVID-19 this year. But unlike flu, for some people, the damaging effects of this virus can last weeks or months. What’s worse is that we don’t know yet if any of that damage could be permanent.  And this element is impacting people in their 20s, 30s and 40s as well. They’re known as the long haulers.   

•   There is no cure, perfect treatment or vaccine yet. But we do know what works, and that’s masking, hand hygiene and physical distancing from others. There’s evidence of this success in other countries. Nobody likes to wear a mask, and legitimately there are some who physically can’t, due to medical issues. But this is a public health issue and your action or inaction may impact someone else’s life. And just like that seatbelt may prevent you from flying through the windshield in a car accident, that mask may protect you or prevent you from giving the virus to someone you love. A large portion of people with this virus don’t even know they have it. And now that we’re heading into cold and flu season, COVID symptoms mimic every other seasonal germ out there. The very least all of us can do is wear a mask in public and keep our distance from others. The sooner we get this virus spread under control, the sooner we get back to normal. And right now, a properly worn mask is the most powerful weapon we have in our personal defense system.   

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