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Dr. Jim Halverson COLUMN on April 3 OPINION page: 'Things we won’t ever  take for granted again'

3 24 HALVERSONPICBy Dr. Jim Halverson
As we start the third week since Ventura County’s Stay Well at Home Order of March 20, how are we doing as a valley in our effort to limit COVID-19? 

 The current numbers are encouraging. As of April 4, there have been five cases in valley residents and no deaths. The threat to our valley is, however, much greater than it was a week ago. The number of infections in surrounding communities is increasing significantly. Many of our valley's essential workers are employed in those communities and some of us continue to go there for essential services. 

 Cases in Community Memorial Hospital and Ventura County Medical Center are steadily climbing. Here are three suggestions to keep the impact of this highly contagious and potentially deadly virus as low as possible.

 


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1. STAY HOME: Do not go to the store unless absolutely necessary and then go during non-busy times. People wearing masks are still contagious if they are sick. If you have a mask, you are still at risk if the virus is exposed to your hands, clothing or eyes. Every outing increases your chance of exposure. Avoid other locations where people are gathered as much as possible.

If you must go out:

2. STAY SAFE: Follow the 6-foot rule. The virus can be transmitted by aerosol (breathing and singing are examples) and droplets (coughing or sneezing). No hugs, handshakes or high-fives. Limit time near others to a minimum. If you are exercising (which is highly encouraged), do it in an area with small numbers of people. If you want to walk Shelf Road, and lots or cars are there, turn around and enjoy other areas of our valley. Go out early (I counted two walkers with four dogs early on a recent Saturday morning in the East End) or later in the evening. Wash your ends after shopping or interacting with others and NEVER put unwashed hands to your face. Use a Chlorox wipe on your shopping cart before and after shopping.

3. STAY WELL: Shelter in place is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Pace yourself every day. Use your phone to talk more and text less. Face time. Use your voice to chat across the street with neighbors you may not have met. Use your computer for email and Zoom chats rather than checking the latest COVID-19 statistics.

Use your TV for movies or favorite shows; less news and more entertainment. 

To keep up, watch the local news at 6 p.m. and national news at 6:30 p.m. only. Check very good and informative websites once a day in the evening. Two of the best in western Ventura County are Ventura County Public Health (http://www.vchca.org/agency-divisions/public-health), which has crucial safety tips and links for the latest local, state and national updates, and the Community Memorial Health System website: www.cmhshealth.org/coronavirus-covid-19.

Enjoy this opportunity to be home and connect with family. Read that book that has been on the bookshelf for years.

When this is over, may we never again take for granted a handshake with a stranger, full shelves at the store, conversations with neighbors, a crowded theater, Friday nights out, getting the kids ready for school, coffee with a friend, a roaring stadium, a deep breath or life itself.

 — Dr. Jim Halverson is a longtime physician in Ojai.

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