Leadership Update 61

In response to the health concerns from COVID-19, Tohono O’odham Nation Health Care (TONHC) stood up Hospital Incident Command Structure (ICS) on January 29, 2020 in collaboration with Tohono O’odham Department of Health and Human Services (TODHHS). Health events like COVID-19 can affect all aspects of a community. With the aim of streamlining the community–wide response, the Tohono O’odham Nation Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches have established Unified Command to centralize planning, communication, and action. This approach also allows different departments and agencies to share resources, staff, and responses more efficiently. Unified Command will include TONHC, TODHHS, and Department of Public Safety (DPS) who will identify goals and authorize actions to carry them out.

  • Stay home when sick to protect others
  • Call your healthcare provider before going in to avoid spreading illness to others in the waiting room.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and dispose of tissues in the trash.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes to keep germs from entering your body.
  • We do not know when COVID-19 will start to spread on the Tohono O’odham Nation
  • There is no vaccine or treatment currently available for COVID-19 but National Institute of Health is evaluating antiviral treatments currently.
  • We do not know when there will be a vaccine available but clinical trials have already begun and it could be as soon as 12-18 months from now.

Experts estimate that for every person infected with COVID-19, between 2 and 3.5 people will become infected.

This is more infectious than novel influenza A (H1N1 in 2009), for which 1 person with the disease was estimated to infect about 1-2 people.

However, COVID-19 is much less infectious than diseases like mumps or measles, where on case of illness can lead to 10-15 people getting infected.

  • The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified and causes a respiratory illness ranging from a mild cold-like illness to severe pneumonia.
  • Most (81%) of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in China had mild disease.
  • Similar to influenza, the people who are most likely to have severe disease and complications from COVID-19 are older individuals (>60 years old) and those with other medical conditions like heart and lung disease or diabetes.
  • Although the reported death rates are 2.3%, these estimates are based only on confirmed cases. World Health Organization, along with international experts, estimates mortality that takes into account people who have mild illness are not diagnosed with COVID-19 to be 0.3-1%, which is very similar to influenza (0.1-0.2%).
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographical areas.
  • COVID-19 is believed to spread mainly the same way the common cold or flu spreads–through respiratory droplets that are produced when someone coughs or sneezes.
  • People who are most at risk becoming infected with COVID-19 are those who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) with someone who has the disease.
  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this with COVID-19, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

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