Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

COVID-19 and the World: Reflections from a Case Investigator in Fulton County

October 2, 2020 · No Comments · COVID19, Uncategorized

COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is an infectious disease that is spread through close contact with other people, and through the air from sneezing and/or coughing. This disease comes from the family Coronaviridae and is caused by SARS-CoV-2. 

Coronaviruses come from different animal species, such as bats, cattle, cats, and camels. COVID-19 is said to have started in Wuhan, China in 2019. World Health Organization (WHO): This novel coronavirus disease was first declared a pandemic in March 11, 2020 (please see timeline below):

Another timeline:

[This timeline came from Dr. Senait Kebede, a public health expert who has worked at the Africa CDC]

Below you’ll see the different symptoms people have experienced because of COVID-19, such as the main reported ones or the more common ones and other symptoms that may not be as common among positive cases. This information comes directly from people who tested positive whom I had the pleasure of speaking with.

Most common symptoms:

  • Temperature of over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • New loss of taste & smell
  • Nausea or vomiting & diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms:

  • Muscle Aches
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Feeling weak/tired/fatigued 
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritated eyes

The information below is a small guide and useful information to help people prevent and/or limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth
  • Practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others and for less than 15 minutes
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and for at least 20 seconds
    • If using hand sanitizer, make sure if contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Do not hang out in groups of over 10 people
  • Stay isolated if you test positive for COVID-19 for 10 days and if you haven’t had a fever in 24 hours – recently updated by the CDC
  • Do not have contact with people who are sick or who are positive
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze
  • Do not touch your face after touching other surfaces
  • Disinfect your home, car, etc. frequently

What it was like being a Case Investigator for Fulton County:

As I mentioned earlier, I obtained some of this information from people who tested positive with COVID-19. This past summer, May-August 2020, I had the pleasure of working with the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Fulton County Board of Health as a COVID-19 Contact Tracer and Case Investigator. About 95% of my time as an intern consisted of conducting case investigations among the Hispanic or Latino community. The interviews included questions such as the symptoms they had, their medical history & pre-existing conditions, any close contact they may have had with people who tested positive (i.e. work, home, get-together, etc.) and whether or not they were hospitalized. We also had to ask if they had come into close contact (within 6ft. of each other for over 15 minutes) with anyone so that we could then call those new contacts and tell them that they had been exposed. Of course, all the information was confidential and the names of the positive cases were never shared with the contacts, we just advised and suggested they get tested and stay in quarantine for 14 days. When calling contacts, we also had to ask if they had any symptoms, and regardless of their response, we would monitor their symptoms (or lack thereof) through a call or a text for the next 14 days after their initial exposure. I also had to tell the positive cases to isolate and with the CDC guidelines rapidly changing, I had to be sure to give them the latest information and guidance. At the end of each call, I’d ask them if they had any questions and I would text them the testing sites and the Spanish resources that were available at the time, while ensuring them that all their information was kept confidential. 

COVID-19 and noncommunicable diseases:

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are chronic diseases that affect many people around the world; they include heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In 2017 alone, NCDs accounted for 70% of deaths globally. COVID-19 has especially been affecting the health of individuals with these pre-existing conditions because they are more at risk for more severe symptoms and outcomes if they get infected with the virus. This article describes how NCDs has globally impacted those individuals who get the virus. The article states that COVID-19 is associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke. Furthermore, as the population ages, more and more people will have multiple chronic conditions that will result in a negative outcome for COVID-19 infections.

How COVID-19 has changed the world:

Furthermore, COVID-19 is affecting people all around the world, not only from the disease itself, but from the economy. For example, many people have been left unemployed and have had to make drastic changes to their lives. Many students have had to adapt to online learning, so they’ve (or their caregivers) had to buy a computer or a laptop, which might be out of their budget. Not only that, but kids are having to learn how to use technology at such a young age. People all over the world have also been in quarantine and have not been able to see their friends or family. It is sad that people have not had the chance to say their final goodbye to some of their loved ones due to having to social distance. In addition, many small businesses have had to close due to lack of customers and revenue. The physical and mental health of people has also been in jeopardy because of the stress they’ve been dealing with from the virus. 

Protecting each other:

Everyone has been trying to adapt to everything, such as working and learning from home, wearing a mask, and not going out to eat or for entertainment. Everyone is still learning about the virus and how it affects humans in the long run. Some people still believe the virus is a hoax, but everyone should be taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and those around them. COVID-19 goes beyond community and national strategies in trying to combat the disease, this needs a global health approach by taking the steps mentioned earlier regarding limiting the spread of the virus. Everyone needs to do the right thing and wear a mask and social distance to help save lives. Such decisions can help stop the spread of COVID-19.



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