SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Washing your hands and following safety protocols can help prevent you from getting sick from COVID-19, but it could also save someone else’s life. We’ve seen a lot of questions online about why government agencies, sports organizations, and even celebrities are canceling big public events. Anything that would have large groups could further spread the virus.

A KELOLAND woman says the effort isn’t just about protecting healthy people, it’s about keeping at-risk populations safe.

Kendra Gottsleben may use a wheelchair, but she’s always standing up for others who have rare diseases. Gottsleben has Mucopolysaccharidosis, or MPS 6, which affects her heart, other vital organs, connective tissue, and mobility. She’s written books about her condition to spread awareness, and now she’s writing to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“My immune system is very susceptible,” Gottsleben said.

In a tweet, she’s asking you to think about the elderly, as well as people with rare diseases and weakened immune systems.

Brady: “When people online are saying, ‘I’ll be fine. I don’t need to follow the rules, because I won’t get it.’ How does that make you feel?”
Gottsleben: “You’re correct. It might be fine for you, but you need to remember, people like me, we can’t fight it. More than likely, if we get it, it will kill us.”

Dr. Brian Skow, Chief Medical Officer with Avera E-Care, says — right now — COVID-19’s death rate for healthy people is about three-percent. It’s five times that for people who are at risk because of old age, diseases, or weakened immune systems. That equals a 15-percent death rate.

“That’s alarming to me and it should be to the entire community,” Skow said.

That’s why Dr. Skow says it’s important to wash your hands, stay away from large groups, stay home if you’re sick, and follow safety guidelines.

“The people you should be thinking about are this at risk population. The immunosupressed, and these are people who have cancer. They can have bone marrow disease, in addition, they can be a kidney transplant patient,” Skow said.

You may not think COVID-19 is a big deal to you, but it could be to someone you pass it on to.

“It’s also a time to be thinking of others who maybe have a rare disease or a disability,” Gottsleben said.