Not “Stay home if you are Sick” Stay Home Period!

With the announcement of six new cases of COVID-19 infections in Oregon, Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed, health officer and state epidemiologist at the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division, said these new cases are a “good reminder to take steps to protect yourself, and vulnerable friends and family members, by washing your hands, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re sick.”

While it is true that people who are sick should stay home, that alone will not slow the exponential growth of COVID-19 illness. In order to slow the growth of cases we need to have as many people as possible not interact with others.

The reason is that without this, the number of new cases will double about every three days. Only a small subset of those cases will require hospitalization, and fewer still will require assistance in breathing. However, if we don’t slow the rate of infections, the number patients in need of hospital beds and ventilators will outstrip our capacity. The result will be that some people will be left to die for lack of equipment, as is currently happening in Italy.

Oregon and the rest of the nation, needs to take a more aggressive approach to promoting social distancing.