Life During Covid-19: Keeping safe as businesses re-open

May 11, 2020

The last month of stay at home orders has been a challenge for everyone.  Now that states are starting to re-open, it is important to keep yourself and those around you safe.

I hope the following information helps answer questions and guide you in the following months.

  1. With the economy starting to re-open, does this the Covid-19 virus is gone?
  2. How many cases are there in my county?
  3. Should I continue to social distance?
  4. Am I at risk if I’m not over 65?
  5. Shouldn’t we get it over with and get the virus already?
  6. Can we beat this virus?
  7. Should I get tested?
  8. Are tests available and what does testing mean?
  9. If I’ve had Covid-19, am I immune and can I pass it to others?

1. Since the economy is starting to open, does this mean the Covid-19 virus is gone?

No, the virus is not gone. However, it is theorized that due to most people experiencing mild symptoms, most infections are not tested and infection numbers are under reported.  Fortunately, Idaho and Oregon have relatively few cases of the virus and the infection numbers are stabilizing.

2. How many cases are there in my area?

The following May 10, 2020 data was obtained from John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center Click HERE to see up to date information.

Oregon (stats based on 2019 Population 4,217,737)

  • 3228 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 127 deaths.  
  • Positive tests: 4.2% of the those tested
  • 4% mortality of confirmed cases.
  • Malheur county reports 14 confirmed cases and zero deaths.
  • Tested (PCR): 75,450, representing 1.8 % of the total state population

Idaho (stats based on 2019 population of 1,787,065)

  • 2230 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 67 deaths.  
  • Positive tests: 6.4% of those tested.
  • 3% mortality of confirmed cases.
  • Tested (PCR): 31,961, representing 1.8 % of the state population.
  • County data in Southwest Idaho
    • Ada county reports 733 cases and 19 deaths
    • Boise county reports 0 cases and 0 deaths
    • Canyon county reports 272 cases and 6 deaths
    • Gem county reports 16 cases and 0 deaths
    • Owyhee county reports 8 cases and 0 deaths.
    • Payette county reports 17 cases and 2 deaths
    • Washington county reports 1 case and 0 deaths

3. Should I continue to social distance?


As business open, some people may feel that social distancing measures are not needed. This is a misguided assumption. The virus is highly infectious.  Continuing safe social distancing measures will help reduce the spread of infection and ensure an open economy.

The best way to reduce viral transmission is for EVERYONE to practice preventative measures: 

  1. Social distancing: maintain at least 6 feet from other people.
  2. Wear a facemask in public covering both nose and mouth.
  3. Washing hands with soap for 20 seconds after being in public. 

4. Am I at risk if I’m not over 65?

There are more total cases of Covid-19 for those age 49 and younger, but the mortality rate is higher for those ages 50 and greater.

Idaho cases and deaths per age group.  ( May 9, 2020 click HERE to see source )

Age Idaho Cases Deaths / % total Deaths
 18-29 460 0 deaths / 0 %
30-39 352 0 deaths / 0 %
40-49 362 0 deaths / 0 %
50-59 368 2 deaths / 3%
60-69 282 9 deaths / 13.4%
70-79 162 13 deaths / 19.4%
80+ 154 43 deaths / 64.2%

Younger people may feel safe from the disease’s mortality rate, but younger people have developed blood clots or died from Covid-19 and there is a risk of transferring the virus to others. Risk factors that may worsen Covid-19 symptoms for every age group include smoking, vaping, diabetes, and asthma.

5. Shouldn’t we get it over with and get the virus already?

There is an argument to open the economy and let the population be exposed to the virus to develop community-wide immunity.  The problem with this argument is the lack of evidence about how strong immunity occurs after exposure.  Furthermore, it is unknown the long term health concerns after viral exposure. Blood clotting may be an acute symptom, but it is not known if there are lingering effects of the virus. Patients who survive the disease after the use of a ventilator may experience long-term heart and lung damage.   Preventing the disease means preventing long-term health consequences.

Additionally, current viral hotspots of the virus where social distancing was not implemented (ie, meat packing plants and prisons) demonstrate rapid viral spread followed by numerous deaths.  The virus then spreads to the greater adjacent communities, putting more susceptible individuals at risk.

It is extremely difficult to protect vulnerable populations such as older persons, those with inflammatory disease, and those with immune deficiency disease. Without everyone participating in social distancing, people may die.

Social distancing will reduce the time the virus remains in our communities.  Until we have universal testing, contact (exposure) tracing, and isolation of those effected or exposed, the virus will continue to spread.

6. Can we beat this virus?

Yes, with discipline and time.  The Smallpox eradication story is a profound lesson of a collective will to eradicate disease.  Smallpox ravaged the world for millennia (it is found in Egyptian mummies) and yet many Millennials may be unaware that their parents were vaccinated against it.  (For those millennials reading this: ask a Baby Boomer about their distinctive smallpox vaccine scar.)

Depending on the strain, Smallpox had a 30-90% fatality rate. Most people died about 2 weeks after contracting the virus. Smallpox killed hundreds of thousands yearly. For those who survived, many were blind and scarred for life.  Smallpox was a monster compared to Covid-19.

Small pox was eradicated in 1977. Eradication of this millennia old, rampant, lethal virus was accomplished with vaccination, identification and isolation of infected individuals, and isolation of those exposed.

We can deal with the Covid-19 virus.   We know how to

  • Reduce exposure (social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands).
  • Test and care for those exposed.
  • Improve our immune systems (eat well, sleep well, immune supportive nutrients) Click HERE for Dr. Rodgers suggested list of immune support.
  • Isolate and care for the infected.
  • Develop vaccines.

What we do in the next year will determine how well we will have learned our lesson from past viruses.  We can defeat this virus if done properly.

7. Should I get tested?

The CDC has issued guidelines for testing priorities.  Click HERE to learn if you qualify for a viral detection test. 

For most people, testing is based on the presence of symptoms. The CDC has recently expanded its symptom list to include:

  1. Cough
  2. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  3. Or at least two of these symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Repeated shaking with chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • New loss of taste or smell
  4. Some patients also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Anecdotal stories include some positive tested patients without cough symptoms.

If you feel you are eligible for a test, please contact your medical provider to discuss your symptoms.  

Stay up to date with the CDC’s symptom list HERE

8. What types of test are available?

 There are two categories of tests available.

Diagnostic Testing: Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).  Presence or Absence of the virus.
This is a done by looking for viral RNA. Obtained with a nasal or throat swab. One test company also provides fecal sample testing.

A positive test confirms that you have the Covid-19 virus.

A negative test indicates that you do not have the virus OR that you are in the initial stages of viral infection.  During initial stages of infection, viral counts are low and may cause a false negative result.  If you have symptoms and test negative, a repeat test 1-2 weeks later is important to confirm test results.

Sample collection. Samples can be obtained via oral or nasal samples. Most tests are limited to hospitals and public health institutions.

Fecal PCR testing. There is evidence that the Covid-19 virus may continue to shed via the fecal route up to 5 weeks after clearance in the respiratory system.  This test is available with physician ordering only.
A fecal PCR test is not officially diagnostic for Covid-19, but may help determine:

  • If a Covid-19 patient continues to be a risk to others.
  • Help determine transmission risk from an asymptomatic person with possible viral exposure.
  • Possible infection in someone with Covid-19 symptoms.

Immune reaction testing:  Immunoglobulin IgM/IgG. 
Currently only FDA approved tests are available and are limited. Testing availability should increase in the near future.

This blood test evaluates an immune response to the virus.  Immunoglobulins are important immune proteins that react to infection.

It is NOT diagnostic for viral infection.  It is NOT diagnostic for immunity. 

This test evaluates for an early or ongoing immune response to viral exposure.

  • IgM. IgM immunoglobulins rise from ~ day 7 to 21 days after initial infection. IgM does not remain in the body after this initial infectious stage.
  • IgG.  The body starts building IgG immunoglobulin ~14 days after initial infection and remains for longer periods of time. It is unknown how long IgG remain elevated after exposure to Covid-19.
  • Crush the Curve Idaho offers an IgG test to anyone who wants to be tested for ~$100.  Their test may be helpful to determine an immune response, but only 13 days after a positive PCR test or 17 days after symptoms start. It is not reliable for people who never had symptoms. Click HERE to sign up for a test.

9. If I’ve had Covid-19, am I immune and can I pass it to others?

Unfortunately, the strength and duration of immunity created after exposure to Covid -19 is unknown.   It is ASSUMED that one may become immune to the disease and not contagious. Unfortunately, this assumption has not yet been proven. It is hoped that survival of a Covid-19 infection will impart immunity to this viral strain for most people