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Health & Science
Here's the latest stories and resources on the 2020 Jonesboro tornado that occurred on March 28.

NYITCOM at A-State Urges Social Distancing, Hygeine During Tornado Recovery


This press release comes from NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University.

It’s not unusual for tragedy such as the one Jonesboro experienced Saturday night to bring a community together - both literally and figuratively. However, in the midst of a global health crisis, local medical officials are warning people to use caution when gathering to conduct relief efforts. 

“We’re not surprised at the generosity that so many people in our community are showing, but we must remember that COVID-19 spreads rapidly when people gather,” said Brookshield Laurent, DO, Chair of Clinical Medicine at NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State. “Even as people work together to physically repair our homes and businesses, we have to stick to the steps necessary to keep each other healthy.”

As groups gather to remove debris and repair damage, Laurent reminds people that the number of individuals involved should be kept at a minimal number and people should keep approximately six feet of space between them as they work.

“The current mandate is no gatherings of 10 or more people,” Laurent said. “Even when working outside, it’s important that we limit the number of individuals in an area.”

People who are sick should avoid volunteering, and whenever possible, volunteers should be screened daily before entering a work area. 

“Anyone who has a cough, fever, difficulty breathing or is generally not feeling well, they really need to stay home and keep away from others,” Laurent said. “I understand people are passionate about helping, but we must realize that we can do more harm than good if we don’t distance ourselves and we must stay home if we are not feeling well. We should be extremely cautious, especially during this vulnerable time in our community.”

Anyone can contract COVID-19, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, there are individuals who are more susceptible to have a more severe course of COVID-19 if they contract it. It is recommended that those people refrain from volunteering, as should those who are in contact with someone who is in quarantine or isolation.

“Individuals with diabetes, heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease and low immune system should avoid groups, so we recommend that they not participate in volunteer efforts that would put them around people who could pass the virus to them,” Laurent said. “Anyone who has been in contact with someone known or suspected to be infected with COVID-19, it’s also important that they abstain from getting involved.”

Those who are able to pitch in are highly encouraged to remember to practice proper hygiene in addition to physical distancing. Organizations leading the relief efforts should supply ample hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and consider providing gloves for volunteers for certain tasks.

“Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds each time you wash,” Laurent said. “Avoid contact with your face, and cough into your elbow. The circumstances we’re facing are unprecedented. We have a responsibility to look out for our neighbors the safest way possible.”