Christmas time to think of others first

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

ďI donít have to listen to this, this isnít Russia!Ē

The 70-something woman abruptly left a public meeting, where the speaker was making a pitch for vaccination.

A few days later, despite not feeling well, she hosted a holiday gathering, where the guests, many of them in their 80s, expressed concern about her appearance.

Later that week, they were writing her husband, also infected with the COVID-19 virus, sympathy notes regarding her passing.

Now public health officials are reporting that the latest coronavirus variant is becoming the dominant strain, spreading more easily and hopefully less dangerous, although at least one death, in Texas, has been reported from omicron.

The pandemic is getting all the attention, but other more common threats such as RSV, colds and influenza are joining it, undeterred this year by more widespread mask-wearing and social isolation that prevented their spread last year.

The best gift we can give our friends and loved ones, especially the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, is to help protect them from illness.

The Southwest Public Health Department is encouraging everyone to cover their coughs, wash their hands well and often, and stay home if they are sick.

Coughing and sneezing into the air spreads germs to others. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people infected with a cold, flu, or COVID can spread it to others up to 6 feet away.

ďAfter you cough or sneeze, germs can stay in the air for 6 minutes or longer and may be breathed in by others. Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or clothing keeps the germs out of the air,Ē explains Melissa Propp, Clinic Manager for SWNPHD.

To help stop the spread of germs:

-- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and place used tissue in the trash.

-- If you donít have a tissue then cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

-- Wash your hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. Be sure to scrub all surfaces of your hands for 20 seconds.

-- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

-- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth as these are places where viruses and bacteria can enter your body.

-- Try to avoid others that are sick.

-- Stay at home if you are sick or have a fever and follow all instructions from your healthcare provider.

Staying home if you are sick may mean having to miss the annual family or work gathering, but the people you could have made sick will be happy you chose not to share your germs.

While you canít avoid every germ this season, do your part in stopping the spread by covering your coughs and washing your hands for a happier and healthier holiday.

More information is available by contacting Melissa Propp at 308-345-4223, visiting SWNPHD at www.swhealth.ne.gov or following on social media.

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