COVID-19: Saint Martin’s professor shares her concerns

Taryn Zard, Staff Writer

COVID-19 has grown rapidly, leading to changes in everyday routines and scientific study. Photo retrieved from creativecommons

COVID-19 is a novel, or new strain of coronavirus.  “CO” stands for corona, “VI” stands for virus, and “D” is for disease, with the number 19 representing the year the new viral strain was discovered, 2019. The virus is thought to spread primarily through human to human contact, namely bodily excretions such as sweat, saliva, coughing, or sneezing. 

Some major health concerns are being used to identify the virus. A lot of the symptoms listed for COVID-19 are similar or the same to those of the “common flu.” When interviewed about the differences between the flu and COVID-19, Saint Martin’s University nursing faculty, Cassie Spencer, Ph.D., conceded that they are quite similar. 

“Dr. Maragakis, a senior director of infection prevention at Johns Hopkins, outlines the key differences [sic] that influenza (flu) virus can be caused by several different types and strains of influenza virus; whereas COVID-19 is a new coronavirus (among hundreds, mostly found in animals). And in regard to symptoms, two key differences are that many people who are infected with COVID-19 don’t feel sick (but can still spread infection) and experience sudden loss of smell or taste. In contrast, people with the flu often have symptoms, and their smell and taste aren’t affected,” shared Spencer.

Saint Martin’s University has put in place a daily self-health check on Omnilert, that helps students monitor their health. The daily check is helpful not only for student and faculty members themselves, but to the fellow peers that people come into contact with. Saint Martin’s is a Benedictine University, with a strong focus on community. Although community is still important and encouraged, it is vital that students take as many safety precautions as possible. 

Spencer shares her concerns regarding the virus and what the school year will look like. She is concerned for her colleagues, the many students that are now faced with unknowns and those who are anxious and stressed from COVID-19. By committing to infection control and prevention, she believes the campus can reduce fears, and make school, homes, and other communities safer. 

Saint Martin’s has put in place different safety measures based off of guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some policies in place include cleaning on campus. When communities use the same surfaces, there is a greater risk of spreading germs. Because of this, classrooms are being cleaned after each class session, and community computers have sanitizing stations. 

Masks are required when in environments where other people are present, people are encouraged to wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap, or use hand sanitizer if a sink is not easily accessible. Community members are encouraged to complete the daily health-check, and if feeling a little off, stay home and contact the health center. Additionally, the cafeteria has changed from what it used to look like. This semester, there are “food-to-go” options, where students can place their lunch order ahead of time, and dining options are limited.

According to Spencer, “The safety measures that have been put in place that are most important are those that break the chain of infection. The chain of infection has six links: 1) infectious agent (ex. Bacteria, virus, and fungi); 2) reservoir (often human or animal); 3) portal of exits (from the reservoir); 4) mode of transmission (direct, indirect, droplet, or airborne); 5) portal of entry (body openings) 6) susceptible host (increased risk factors). All these links must be present for an infection from one person to another. COVID-19 is a newly identified virus and there is a lot we don’t know, but we do know it can’t spread if any one of these links is missing. Which is why hand washing, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance, and maintaining self-care are the most important actions we can take to stop the spread of COVID-19.” 

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), there are currently four clinical studies that are looking at the safety of some preliminary vaccines. Richard Bartlett, Ph.D., a practicing physician in Texas, has been making some unconventional research. He has created a cocktail of clarithromycin, zinc, and low-dose aspirin. Budesonide has been prescribed for over 20 years as an anti-inflammatory for respiratory issues, such as asthma, and since inflammation of the lungs is one of the key issues with COVID-19, Bartlett thought to experiment.

Combining budesonide with clarithromycin, an antibiotic; zinc, an element used to enhance and support immune function; and low-dose aspirin, to prevent the potential blood clotting issues that have been known to be present with this new virus, Bartlett has created his own concoction that he believes can help fight COVID-19. 

Spencer said that “the best supplements are those scientifically proven to promote health and wellness. When we look at the chain of infection, susceptibility of the host is one of those factors we can control. Whether you are well or currently have a chronic illness, you can decrease susceptibility to infection through health promoting behaviors: improve sleep hygiene, avoid or minimize use of tobacco and vaping products, avoid or minimize use of alcohol, adhere to physical distancing recommendations, and routinely wipe high touch surfaces.” 

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