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Covid-19 Changed The World


March 19, 2020

“The world changed last week for everybody,” said City of Shawnee and Pottawatomie County Emergency Manager Don Lynch during a meeting held Monday at the Avedis Foundation. Lynch brought the department directors, tribal emergency services and other local entity leaders together so “everyone would be on the same page.

Mike Potter with the Oklahoma State Health Department said the call center would be open to everyone 24/7. The number, 877-215-8336, would be answered by public health nurses. He also said the website, had a lot of good information.

Chief Medical Officer of Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services Dr. George Vascellaro said the CPN put a plan in effect two weeks ago for the Covid-19 virus. He, however, first read about it in a medical journal in January, before it was given a name.

Vascellaro said he has been keeping a close watch on the progression since he read the article.

He said the social distancing should be taken seriously to slow the spread of the virus and avoid oversaturating the health care system. Vascellaro explained slow the spread will flatten the curve. This means instead of a drastic spike in the number infected, the slow spread would allow consistent care and release of patients.

Vascellaro relayed information from a relative completing residency in Italy. The relative said early in the onset of the virus there wee 66 reported cases. Three weeks later there were 21,000. His cousin said the virus was affecting healthy young people as well as those who were high risk.

He said, “Hypertension seems to be a really big risk factor. Understand this is a SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus that causes interstitial pneumonia, but it’s as contagious as the common cold. It actually uses what’s called the Ace 2 Receptor to get into the cells in your body. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the common blood pressure medicine called Ace Inhibitors…In Italy, right now they think these make uptake of the virus worse. Meaning, there’s a spike with more critical cases of people with high blood pressure that take these medicines.”

Vascellero continued reading the email, “Right now we don’t know if you should stop them or not. We’ve been looking into that, but it’s real. As you already know the virus incubation is about 14 days causing coughing, high fevers and dizziness.”

He reiterated the need for social distancing. And finished with, “I really hope that someday what I’m telling you makes me seem over the top. But until I quit seeing objective evidence, until I quit having dominoes fall and I have to go to the next level, I’m going to keep preaching this.”

“I don’t think you can over-emphasize it,” said Lynch. “Slowing the spread of the disease is one of the best hopes we have at this point.”

Absentee Shawnee Clinical Services Director Michelle Wollenzin, RN said they had been decreasing appointments, pushing well baby appointments, blood pressure checks and other routine checkup out to May.

She said, “Health takes on a lot of different responsibilities. When we’re in a crisis, and this is a crisis, then we’re in a marathon, ot a sprint.”

“There is only a finite amount of people that can do what we need to do,” said Wollenzin. But at the end of the day we’re a community. We don’t necessarily wanting to go knocking on the door and getting in their face. But picking up the phone and asking do you need something from the grocery store. I’m heading that way.”

“It’s about taking care of one another as a community. Check on your neighbors. Stay home when you don’t have to. Don’t go to the casino. Go to the restaurant and do take out. We can still support our community and the businesses.”

She said, “We’re doing the social distancing, but not asocial disconnect. We don’t want to disconnect from one another. We just want to not be in each other’s grill.”


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