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The News Editorial: A few COVID and WHO facts to ponder

I have steered away from COVID-19 thoughts in this space for a while to give everyone a break but a lot has been happening so I’m going to over a few facts and provide a few thoughts.

Fact 1: Novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is not a hoax. It is a real disease, real people have gotten sick, real people have died and real people have recovered. We have reported on all of these specific to local residents here in Worland.

According to the World Health Organization (more on them in a minute), under their Mythbusters Tab on their website, they list as a FACT that most people who get COVID-19 recover from it. That’s a FACT not a myth.

The WHO website further states, “Most people who get COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms and can recover thanks to supportive care. If you have a cough, fever and difficulty breathing seek medical care early - call your health facility by telephone first.”

FACT (according to WHO): People of all ages can be infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older people and younger people can be infected by the COVID-19 virus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes (especially those whose diabetes is not under control), and heart disease appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. 

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

A few facts on WHO – they were formed in 1948, following the formation of the United Nations in 1945. They have 150 country members with offices in each country. The United States, according to Forbes magazine is the highest contributor with nearly $116 million provided annually. China is next at $57.4 million.

During the media briefing on July 6 in which WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed COVID-19 and AIDS, he said, “To beat the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that essential health services for diseases like HIV continue; we cannot afford any divisions.

“I will say it again. National unity and global solidarity are more important than ever to defeat a common enemy, a virus that has taken the world hostage.

“This is our only road out of this pandemic. I repeat national unity and global solidarity.”

It’s ironic that on that same day President Donald Trump begins a formal withdrawal from membership in WHO.

I’m not going to debate the merits of membership in WHO because after researching the website I’m not exactly sure the benefits except that we help fund their work across the globe.

But, I bet most of us didn’t know much about WHO until this pandemic. You may have heard about them with other pandemics but they have never been more in the press and their motives and work questioned until COVID-19.

Another FACT is that WHO guidelines can differ at times from other health guidelines including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Case in point, in researching this column, I found several articles providing different advice on whether to wear masks when exercising.

The WHO states in the Myth Tab, “FACT: People should NOT wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably.

“Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms. The important preventive measure during exercise is to maintain physical distance of at least one meter from others.”

The CDC website mentions not wearing masks while swimming but gives some ambiguous recommendations regarding other exercises including “people should not wear cloth face coverings while engaged in activities that may cause the cloth face covering to become wet” and “people who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a cloth face covering.”

So that brings us to the issue of MASKS.

I am still amazed at the anger and hostility people show regarding those who wear or do not wear masks, depending on what side you are on. We had a name-calling issue with one of our posts over whether people should or should not wear masks.

I wrote several weeks ago that there is no room in this pandemic for COVID shaming. People wear or don’t wear masks for a variety of reasons. The majority of the time I do not wear a mask. Why – because the Wyoming Department of Health guidelines state, “Wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing of at least 6 feet isn’t practical.”

Read the recommendation carefully. It does not say wear cloth face covering in public settings. It says wear them in public settings where physical distancing of at least six feet isn’t practical. That’s the guideline I follow and the majority of the places I go whether shopping, doing something fun or for work, I can maintain that social distance.

Everyone has their reasons why they do or do not wear a mask. I guarantee you though that the majority of those who do not wear a mask are not stupid, naïve or it does not mean they do not care.

Whatever you do, be safe. Washakie County was COVID free for about 24 hours earlier this week, meaning we did not have an active case and then we got our 35th case on Tuesday.

While many activities are being canceled this Saturday in Worland is going to be a busy one with a softball tournament at Newell Sargent Park, golf tournament at Green Hills, car show at Midway Auto and RV, fundraiser car wash, farmers market and riders from the Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club and Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club will be stopping in Worland for lunch on their way to Powell as part of the annual Wyoming Thunder Run.

With many people in town and many things to do, be safe.

It is OK to wash your hands (20 seconds at least regardless of COVID-19 or not), to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and to stay home when you are ill for your protection as well as the protection of others.

And, we know it is OK to treat one another with love and respect even when we disagree.

Be safe out there.

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