Mines officials ready for coronavirus

Elizabeth Racz (1)

RAPID CITY, S.D. — With concern of COVID-19 (known as coronavirus) on the rise, Dr. Elizabeth Racz, a lecturer and epidemiologist at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, is advising her students and everyone else to use common sense and stay calm.

“Don’t panic, but be prepared,” Dr. Racz says. “Protect yourself by sleeping well, eating well, keeping your immune system in good shape. In addition, think about your ‘community’ in case of a quarantine or illness, and consider what you would need, she says. Who will you help and who will help you? What resources will you need?”

The coronavirus, which originated from Wuhan City in China, has spread globally in a relatively short amount of time, and has spread from animals to humans by way of consumption, even though no one is quite sure which animal caused the outbreak.

Dr. Racz said that the spread from animals to humans doesn’t happen as rapidly with other viruses as it has with coronavirus, and thinks that this is something special about the virus. The death rate of COVID-19 is currently around 2% with most of those statistical deaths coming from males who are 60 or older. Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The South Dakota Board of Regents is also keeping an eye on the virus and have normal plans in place. In a statement the board said:

“Our campuses monitor these types of situations closely and they have processes/procedures in place to assess and address any impact on operations resulting therefrom. At present, our campuses are continuing to follow their normal processes for monitoring and addressing issues such as this, and no special system action has been taken with respect to the coronavirus specifically.”

Dr. Racz’s instructions for preparing for the virus are as follows:

  • Wash hands regularly and properly
  • Do not touch your face, including your eyes
  • Cover cough with arm or cloth
  • Stay home when sick. Dr. Racz points out that employers have a responsibility to their employees to encourage them to take sick time without fear of job loss.
  • Keep surfaces, light switches, doorknobs clean
  • Maintain good sleep hygiene
  • Eat healthy
  • Reduce stress

COVID-19 is a new virus. Dr. Racz also says that a big problem with COVID-19 is that people who become infected could be asymptomatic, meaning that despite the lack of symptoms, a victim could still be infectious.

“Our bodies have never seen this before,” Dr. Racz says. “Our bodies are naïve to this virus.”

The Center for Disease Control believes that it could take more than a year to obtain a vaccine that combats the virus.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News