Don’t Get Scared – Get the Facts: A Coronavirus

(COVID-19) summary

Summarized from information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. As of  March 7, 2020

Submitted by Dr. Karen Lee Morrissette


What you see on the new can produce anxiety, especially when there are conflicting reports. This is especially true for COVID-19, otherwise known as the novel Coronavirus, that started in China and has spread to several countries, including the United States. There have so far been no cases in Montana.

Most of the ill have been persons who have had contact with someone who has either already been diagnosed or who has recently traveled to an area where there are a lot of people sick. Just within the past two weeks, the United States has started seeing a few cases where there was no obvious contact identified. That means the sick person probably had contact with someone who was infected, but either wasn’t showing symptoms or has not been identified by medical personnel. Currently the highest risk is to healthcare personnel, close personal contacts of those who have been diagnosed, and people who have traveled internationally to at risk areas, such as China, Singapore, Iran, South Korea, Japan, and parts of Italy. The general population not exposed in these ways is still at low risk of contracting COVID-19. You are much more likely to become ill from Influenza. The CDC estimates that there have been 32-45 million cases of Influenza in the US this season with 18-46 thousand deaths. The United States has so far seen 60 cases of Coronavirus with 6 deaths.

The virus is known to spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. Most often, people are infected when they are nearby and breathe these droplets in. However,  droplets can live on surfaces for an extended period, so touching a contaminated surface and then your face could lead to transmission. It is believed that symptoms can take 2-14 days from the time an individual is exposed to the time they develop symptoms, but it could possibly be a little longer. The numbers are still a bit unclear because of differences in reporting and lack of testing availability in some areas, but it appears that a large percentage of people who are infected either do not develop symptoms or they are very mild. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Those who are most at risk of developing complications from the illness are those who are elderly and have underlying health problems. These complications are infrequent, but are predominantly related to serious breathing problems.

The best ways to avoid contracting COVID-19 are to stay away from people who are ill, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, avoid touching your face, and clean/disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol can also be used but may not be as effective. It is not recommended for those who are well to wear a facemask, but appropriate ones are helpful for those who are already sick or for the healthcare workers treating them. Wash hands after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing/sneezing/blowing your nose. If you do become ill, stay home and call your medical provider or local public health office for advice.

The CDC has developed a test for COVID-19 that uses sputum collected from a patient, but initial test kits were flawed. Functioning test kits are being re-distributed to medical facilities but numbers of tests are currently limited. This should improve as time goes on. There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19. Treating the disease involves managing the symptoms and providing respiratory support for those who become critically ill. Several centers are trying to develop a vaccine, but this can take several months.

The most important things to remember are to stay aware, stay safe, and don’t panic.

Saint Patrick’s Day Events       

At age 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and was taken across the Irish sea by pirates and sold into slavery. For several years he was forced to tend cattle out in the forest and mountains while half naked and starving, and he prayed for relief and escape. After receiving a spiritual vision, a voice came to him in a dream and said that he would soon be departing for his land of origin. Patrick later wrote in Confessio, that soon after in another dream a voice told him, behold, your ship is ready.

At about the age of twenty, he escaped and eventually reunited with his family. After a period of approximately three decades, he received a strong spiritual calling to become a priest and return to Ireland. By then he was approximately 47 years old, and against the wishes of his family, he returned to Ireland.

Upon his return, he took the name Patrick, from the Latin Patricius meaning father figure, and with a mystics faith, an intelligent mind, and commendable bravery began to convert the islands population to Christianity around 433 AD. He also abolished slavery, baptized the natives, ordained priests, and recorded Judeo – Christian history, culture, and religious practices with the help of secluded Irish monks. In Thomas Cahill’s book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, he mentions that this Christian missionary and patron saint of Ireland is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity in the A.D. four hundreds. Also that Saint Patrick encouraged the building of around 300 churches and monasteries, which as anyone who has visited Ireland knows is no small task. He additionally called out the bondage of Irish women, accenting his respect for their strength, intelligence, and perseverance. The Rock of Cashel castle is known as St. Patrick’s Rock. Patrick passed from this earth on March 17, 461 A.D., at approximately 75 years old. His remains are believed to be buried at Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Three other Libby St. Pat’s Day events are occurring in mid-March. On Saturday, March 14, Aunt T’s Coffee Corner will be hosting it’s second annual St. Patty’s Day Celebration and Bazaar  from 9 am to 2 pm. The family event will be held at the coffee shop at 417 Mineral Avenue in Libby. There will be kid’s activities that will include a treasure hunt with prizes, coloring contest, costume contest, and photo booth. Plus drink specials and numerous vendors. Some of the vendors lined up are Krinklehorn Caps, Yaak Attack Central, McLaury’s Apiaries, Boho Bear Boutique, Big Montana Sky Creations, and Cabinet Mountain Woodworks. For more information on this event call 285-1117. There is also a Libby Methodist Church Farmers Market hosted Irish Festival being held on Saturday, March 14 at Asa Wood School from 10 am to 4 pm. There will be food, craft items, raffles and drawings. For more information on this event email Juanita Schikora at juanbill7752@hotmail.com. And up in the Yaak there’s a St. Paddy’s Day Party on Saturday, March 14th featuring the Dodgy Mountain Men for a no cover 8 pm performance. Enjoy home brewed Montana stomp grass that goes down smooth but packs a bite. Call the Yaak River Tavern for more info at 295-4706.


By Brian Baxter, The Montanian