Ask Dr. Halverson: 'Stay home, stay safe and stay well'


Dr. Jim Halverson




By Dr. Jim Halverson
It has been three weeks since Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order of March 20. It appears that all of our collective efforts are beginning to show encouraging results. It is critical that we continue to encourage ourselves and others to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, keep our hands away from our face, stay at home as much as possible and maintain 6 feet or more of social distancing if we must go out. 
Current models suggest our Ventura County hospitals and healthcare system will be maximally impacted somewhere between April 20 and April 30. Here are two additional ways you can help keep our Ojai Valley as safe as possible.
1. Allow those who most urgently need testing to have it available for them.
This continues to be a very difficult situation. New testing equipment and supplies are required for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Federal assistance has been very limited. At the state level, Gov. Newsom has formed a task force to help increase testing capacity. In Ventura County, with a population of more than 850,000, our Public Health department and Quest Laboratories have been increasing testing as rapidly as possible, and our hospitals are just beginning to obtain critical supplies for in-hospital testing. 
Currently, our county is running 300 to 400 tests per day and has completed nearly 5,000 since the pandemic began. Until testing supplies and laboratory capacities are significantly increased, healthcare providers, urgent-care facilities and hospitals are following these recommendations:
These patients should be tested for COVID-19:
Patients with fever (over 100.4) AND cough or shortness of breath who are:
— Hospitalized with severe lower respiratory illness.
— Healthcare workers.
— Workers in other public safety occupations (e.g., law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services).
— Living in facilities or institutions with high risk of morbidity or mortality (nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, correctional facilities, homeless shelters).
— Patients with organ failure (CHF, COPD, cirrhosis, renal failure, etc.) or severely immunocompromised from medications.
These patients may be tested for COVID-19 after discussion with a healthcare provider:
Patients with fever (over 100.4) AND cough or shortness of breath who are:
— Older than 60.
— With underlying medical conditions (diabetes, coronary artery disease, severe hypertension, etc.).
— Pregnant.
Younger, healthy individuals with mild disease and asymptomatic patients do not need testing at this time.
2. Masks
If you must go out and cannot safely maintain at least 6 feet distance from others, it is highly recommended that you wear a mask. These masks help protect others from YOU, not you from others. They can be homemade (there are many online sites that show you how to make them) and should cover the nose and mouth. Please put on, and take off, the mask after washing your hands. Clean the mask at the end of each day by washing in hot water or cleaning with a solution of at least 60% alcohol. 
Also, wipe down or wash supplies that you bring into your home that may have been recently handled by others (including the mail). Please do not use new N-95 masks (if you have one currently, reuse after cleaning) as they do not significantly increase your protection without gowns, gloves and eye protection and are desperately needed by others who work daily to protect, serve and care for our valley residents. Please donate new N-95 masks or other medical supplies (gloves or face masks) to our local hospital through our Ojai Valley Community Hospital Foundation office at 1301 Maricopa Highway between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. 
Thank you so much for all of your amazing efforts during this extremely difficult time. Together we WILL keep our valley, neighbors, friends and ourselves as safe as possible.
Stay home, stay safe and stay well.
— Dr. Jim Halverson is a longtime Ojai physician who is providing regular health updates to the Ojai Valley News.



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