Story by E.C. McRoy

Dr. Tracie Collins, UNM’s Dean of the College of Population Health, said that a pandemic affects the population in a global way, meaning that everyone around the world is engaging to control the spread of COVID-19.

The globalization of this disease is an “opportunity for people to work together” in terms of governmental cooperation, and countries need to be sharing data and information in an effort to understand what’s happening in other areas.

“[Cooperation is important] especially since we’re in the initiation phase, not the acceleration phase for this disease,” said Collins.

Dr. Collins said that the classification of pandemic does not change the way the government operates, however, it means that communities need more support from the government.

“We need more support … from the administration to help on a state-wide level and to help the governors and then the governors helping the mayors,” said Collins. “Everyone needs to work together.”

It is important to be aware of the potential risks for smaller and rural communities, because they may not have access to the same resources and they may not be receiving the same messages as those located in the larger cities.

“We need to make sure we’re reaching out to rural communities, smaller communities, making sure that everyone understands the potential threat of this infection,” said Dr. Collins.

Dr. Collins said that while COVID-19 severely impacts the elderly, young people are not immune and can still become infected.

There is the potential for complications in those individuals with compromised immune systems, those with chronic conditions or respiratory illnesses.

“Everyone can get infected,” said Dr. Collins. “Even if a young person has COVID-19, but no symptoms, they could spread it to someone else. … Therefore, everyone needs to take this seriously.”

Dr. Collins said that people should be staying at home unless absolutely necessary, like buying groceries.

When individuals must interact in a public environment, people are told to keep physical distance between themselves and others, a recommended six feet at least.

Everyone should be washing their hands as frequently as possible as well as wiping down frequently touched surfaces with at least 70% alcohol content or Lysol, said Collins.

“[We should be] trying to remain positive as we all contribute to being a source of the solution, not the problem,” said Dr. Collins.

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