Dear Editor,

While we have today 235 coronavirus patients diagnosed in Iowa today, Saturday 28 March, the numbers will go up very rapidly from here because each person infected gives it to 2 or 3 others on average. Doctors and hospitals do not have any specific treatment, but can support with oxygen and ventilators. We want to have care including healthy medical caregivers, hospital beds and ventilators available if we or loved ones get sick.
The best medical care is to not get infected. In other words we, and especially those that are high risk to die, need protection. Those that can, need to stay at home, and if we go out, stay at least 6 feet from others, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash hands thoroughly and frequently. It is ok to exercise outdoors if you take these precautions.
I recommend you call in your grocery order or order online, especially if you are 60 or older or have a history of heart or lung disease, cancer or diabetes or many other health conditions. (In Decorah, Oneota Coop and Fareway will do this. Walmart will only do this for dry goods, not dairy, produce or meat. Check with your grocery if you have shop elsewhere.) Pay for it ahead. If you want to pick up the order yourself, call the store when you arrive so you don’t have to go inside. Have them bring it out and place it in your car. You need to stay 6 feet away from them. If there is a lower risk person that lives with you, ask them to do the grocery or pharmacy run for you, or consider having the taxi deliver it.
When you get home, wash your hands. At our house, we spray down the grocery packages before bringing them into the house with a disinfectant solution after setting them separately on the front porch. We then wipe them down with a paper towel. For produce, we wash them in soapy water and rinse well, and let the item dry. Then bring them in, and put them away. Wash your hands again.
Leading public health experts argue that all U.S. states should have residents stay at home for several weeks to slow down this devastating pandemic. I am not a public health expert, but am a retired family practice physician who has been following the pandemic closely, and I agree. Certain essential services are certainly needed during this time and must remain open, for example pharmacies, grocery stores and others. Our Governor Reynolds should order a statewide shelter in place designation. Please call her at 515-281-5211 and encourage her to do this.
We also strongly need a national plan, based on truth and public health science in order to minimize the illnesses and deaths that are coming. I have not yet seen one. Please call your national elected officials. If you have questions, call Winneshiek County Public Health, 563-382-4662 or go to winneshiekhealth.org. If you feel ill, call your doctor or the emergency room before going in. And, stay safe, stay home.

Kevin Sand MD