The pandemic has had one constant: change.
Dr. Barbara Meyer is the liaison between Goshen Family Physicians and GC. Dr. Meyer speaks about how COVID-19 is affecting us all as it continues to change.
What are some things students can do to stay healthy as the weather changes?
BM: Washing your hands with pretty much any good soap for 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer that includes at least 60% alcohol is pretty effective. Wearing a mask and standing six feet from people is effective and being outdoors is probably eight times safer than being indoors in terms of communicability of the coronavirus.
For people who are actually podded together, which means they’re actually in a household together, they have to be really careful because if some of the people in that group have outdoor contacts, like grocery stores or other essential functions where they are around a lot of people working in schools or that kind of thing then you have to be really careful. So even if you’re living in the same house as that person, you may still need to be careful about how much you are exposed to each other.
The COVID-19 numbers in Elkhart County are the highest they’ve been. What does that mean for the college?
BM: What I would say is that the opening of universities, and certainly the further opening of restaurants and churches and other large-volume environments, seemed to have come together to cause this new surge.
We have to do what they call risk budgeting, which means that if we’re gonna say education is important, then we have to be willing to close other things, and these exposures are additive. If we say, we really care about school, then I think we need to be able to say, we’re going to choose that over some other activities that would increase our risk so that it’s possible for more people to go to school and reap that benefit.
Goshen Family Physicians and GC are working together to test people on campus. Can you explain that process a little bit?
BM: Dr. Anne Shenk is the family doctor on our staff that works closest with Kevin Miller and with the athletic director at the college in terms of how individual testing will be done.
Some testing needs to be done for athletes before competition by conference guidelines. Those decisions are made by the Goshen College team along with our lead physician. Then there are people who clearly had contact with someone who’s positive who have obvious symptoms, who should just be called positive.
How will the relationship between Goshen Family Physicians and GC change over the next few months?
BM: We are much more on campus than usual. Usually, one of us will come speak on various health related subjects in the fall when there’s not a pandemic. We always do flu shots on campus, but nothing like the scale of presence that we have had this year with the pandemic. We will be as involved as we need to be to protect students. We are committed to the health of Goshen College campus, the students and the faculty. That has meant this year that we have really had a much higher level of involvement on campus than usual. I think we will be as involved as we need to be to help care for student and faculty health.
When a vaccine is made available, what could distribution at GC look like?
BM: I think it could look very much like the flu vaccine looks. My concern is we really need to make sure that a vaccine is adequately tested to make sure it’s safe to use. Particularly in a relatively healthy population, like a university campus. I’m not excited about exposing people to a vaccine that is not very well tested, but once we have a vaccine that we feel has been adequately tested and does seem to be safe to use and and reliable in terms of protection from the coronavirus, we will certainly be offering it in a similar way to how we are offering the flu vaccine now.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.