Having 20/20 Vision in 2020

11-29-2020Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

In medical terms, having ‘20/20 vision’ means a person sees with optimum acuity and clarity. In popular culture, the phrase ‘20/20 vision’ means a person has a clear view of a situation. In the year 2020, one needs far more than perfect vision to see clearly through the cloudy atmosphere of the coronavirus pandemic! So much of what we hear seems confusing, conflicting, or inconsistent such that the effects of the “infodemic” may leave us angry, frustrated, or overwhelmed. Late last Wednesday, as we headed into our Thanksgiving Break, the CDC indicated that it is considering shortening the quarantine period for those persons who have close contact with someone who is COVID positive, but remain free of symptoms. For those who have had to endure a 14-day quarantine, this news probably has them seeing red. Why the change, especially now with an increase in coronavirus cases nationwide? The answer is “evidence”.

Evidence--’the most appropriate information available, knowledge of disease mechanisms and patient situations’ are just some of the factors that health professionals use to make critical decisions, everyday. Generally speaking, evidence is the foundation on which guidelines, protocols and procedures are built. In the setting of the novel coronavirus, there was not an existing body of evidence to guide practice and thus, as many have observed, the “plane is being built as it is being flown”. In May 2020, when we began making plans for reopening, we had to rely largely on data from foregin countries and the State to help inform decision making. In August 2020, increased data and increased experience allowed the County to more vigorously support schools in decision making regarding functioning during the pandemic. In November 2020, having implemented the actions outlined in our “Smart, Healthy & Holy” plan, we have gathered our own evidence. This evidence is used to adjust or validate the protocols and procedures we have enacted. At the National level, the CDC now has evidence, gathered from the nearly 13 million cases of COVID, to refine their guidelines.

Though frustrating, it is evidence that more is being learned about the novel coronavirus and how to best care for those who become ill because of it. We continue to monitor the COVID situation in our communities and will follow the directions of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, updating our guidelines as necessary. We have just three weeks together before we break for Christmas. Our greatest desire is to have our students present on campus, in a safe, healthy environment. Working together, “Home & School”, we can accomplish this! Please continue to use the Daily Screening Tool for your students, keep them home when necessary, and encourage them to practice hand hygiene, physical distancing and appropriate masking. May the Light of the first Advent candle help us see our way through the darkness!