The UIC MinER Center cautions those living with pre-existing conditions, such as black lung, to take necessary precautions to avoid infection of coronavirus or COVID-19.
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The coronavirus or offically known as COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory virus. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11th, 2020.
Most infected individuals experience mild to moderate symptoms and are able to recover without special treatment. Older populations and those living with pre-existing conditions tend to develop more serious symptoms and may require hospitalization.
The situation is rapidly evolving. For the most up to date information on the COVID-19 pandemic in your area, please check your local health department’s website.
- Shortness of Breath
- Repeated Shaking with Chills
- Muscle Pains
- Sore Throat
- New Loss of Taste or Smell
According to the CDC, symptoms may occur between 2-14 days upon exposure to the virus. If you feel unwell, stay at home. If symptoms worsen, contact your healthcare provider and follow their directions.
COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person contact through respiratory droplets that are projected when someone coughs or sneezes. It can take up to 14 days before someone begins to show symptoms of COVID-19. During this time, the infected individual may spread it unknowingly to others.
A person may also become infected by touching an infected surface and touching their face with unclean hands.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cites that COVID-19 can be airborne for up to three hours, live on copper surfaces for up to four hours, and up to 24 hours on cardboard surfaces. Studies have found that the virus can survive on plastic or stainless steel surfaces between two to three hours.
There are several things you can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face or eyes with uncleaned hands
- Avoid unnecessary travel.
- Most importantly, stay at home if you are sick.
This novel coronavirus is highly contagious and in the absence of a vaccine, our best way to slow the spread of this epidemic is by practicing social distancing. This means minimizing in-person social contact with others and maintaining at least 6 feet between yourself and others if you are in public. Doing this reduces your chance of being infected by the coronavirus, but also keeps you from unknowingly infecting others. All of this is necessary to flatten the curve, or slow the rate of infection, which will keep our hospitals from becoming completely overwhelmed.Senior Epidemiologist at the MinER Center|
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In the News
March 23rd, 2020. Those with black lung disease among most vulnerable for having complications from COVID-19. According to the CDC, in West Virginia one in five coal miners who worked in mines for at least 25 years have black lung.
Coal miners told to keep working during the outbreak
March 24th, 2020. A respiratory infection in addition to an existing lung disease can make things worst. “With black lung disease and silicosis, said Robert Cohen, a doctor who is the principal investigator at the Black Lung Clinic Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, ‘you damage the lung’s ability to heal itself and to resist further damage.’” COVID-19 poses are significant risk to miners living with black lung disease.
Dr. Cohen also comments, “but the coal face isn’t such a safe place, either, he said, even though miners are more spread out there. ‘You’re coughing, you’re spitting, you’re wiping your nose.’ There’s no hand sanitizer along a seam of coal, nor a nearby washroom. Miners typically don’t wear respirator masks because they make it too difficult to do heavy labor.”
'I’m Just Praying': Miners Fear the Impacts Covid-19
March 25th, 2020. “COVID-19 is especially deadly to those above the age of 60 and to those already suffering from heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Once the virus infects someone, it attacks the respiratory system. For those with an already weakened system, that damage can prove deadly. hospitals with critical care units may not be a simple 10-minute or even 30-minute drive away. All this can further complicate the region’s COVID-19 response.
Leonard Go, a research assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told Earther. ‘Prevention is really the name of the game here.’”