Facing COVID

Dr. Matt Young discusses local COVID-19 concerns

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Photo by Assad Malik

Bowie County Health Authority Matt Young responds to the community’s concerns over COVID-19. Young stated that people should be taking this rapidly spreading virus seriously and remain quarantined.

Story by Peyton Sims and Kate Morgan

News headlines sweep across the nation. States are on lockdown. Grocery store shelves are vacant. Families continue to fear the unknown. With rising concerns in the community over the COVID-19 pandemic, Bowie County Local Health Authority Matt Young takes his stand on what steps Texarkana should take in order to fight the spread of the virus locally.

“A lot of people may think it’s a hoax or that it’s not that serious, but [coronavirus] is deadly. It’s rapidly spreading,” Young said. “At first, we thought that it may not be as virulent, or able to be infected from person to person, as the flu, but now we think it may be 10 times more contagious.”

Because the COVID-19 strand of coronavirus has only recently been studied in depth, many people are unsure of what exactly the coronavirus is. Also, because of COVID-19’s flu-like symptoms, the two diseases are commonly mixed up.

“The biggest symptoms are a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, coughs, shortness of breath, chills, sore throat and body aches,” Young said. “With the flu, we tend to see more congestion or nasal secretion. The body aches and chills might be the same, but we usually see them more with the flu than with COVID-19.”

In order to remain safe and healthy, the community members must fulfill their part. As of now, Texas has yet to announce a mandatory state lockdown, but that could change if COVID-19 cases increase. 

“The best way to stay safe is social distancing by making sure to stay away from each other, or in particular, someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. We need to be sure we’re following the CDC recommendations which, as of now, is not being in a gathering of 10 or more people,” Young said. “People should also do a strict hand cleansing with warm water for at least 20 seconds. If you use any over the counter antiseptics they should have at least 60% alcohol in them. If you have to cough or sneeze, do it at the bend of your elbow. And then, if we must greet someone, do it with a fist or elbow bump, or even a casual hello, rather than shaking hands.”

Throughout social media, customers have shared pictures of empty shelves in grocery stores that formerly held canned goods, frozen food, hand sanitizer and, predominantly, toilet paper. In the occurrence of a world crisis, what should people really be stocking up on? 

“With personal hygiene being a [concern], that’s most likely why everyone’s stocking up on toilet paper. However, it’s a little excessive how much they’re buying. What we do want people to stock up on is water and other essentials like over the counter medicines for coughs and fevers because someone who’s mildly ill can be taken care of at home,” Young said. “We don’t want people to panic and rush our ER or call 911 unnecessarily. We have to save that [for instances] like heart attacks and motor vehicle accidents; traumas still occur every day, even during this pandemic.” 

People need to be mindful of the severity of COVID-19 and remain quarantined. While people may want to get tested to ensure they’re not a carrier, they must be mindful of the ill and weaker individuals within the community.

“There’s a public hotline where people can call and ask simple questions or where they may go get tested, and again, testing is very difficult,” Young said. “There are so few tests, so we’re trying to save those for the extremely sick patients. If you don’t have symptoms, we are asking you to stay at home. Within 14 days if you’ve not had any of the symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, that would be a negative test.”