COVID-19 Update 3/8/20
This is a bit long so that I can address specific questions that we have been hearing in the office and by email.
First, guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends “older adults” and anyone who is vulnerable (taking medications that suppress your immune system, with specific immune disorders, etc.) should:
- Stay at home as much as possible.
- Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds.
We do not have a clear definition of “older adults”; however, this clearly applies to anyone over the age of 70 and risk may begin to increase meaningfully as early as 50.
Second, if you are having a fever, cough, and shortness of breath please call us but do not come directly to the office. Under these conditions, we can provide work or school notes without seeing patients directly. There are many forms of influenza and other viruses with similar symptoms and even if there is an outbreak of the new coronavirus in our community, most of us will experience it much like these other viruses. Even if contracted, it is usually a period of 7-14 days before the unique health challenges of this new coronavirus become a problem. We are continuing to work with others in the community to find a way to begin testing so that we can have a better picture of what is happening in our area.
Finally, after receiving a number of emails with similar questions and claims, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few basic statements relating to the coronavirus. First, we are not addressing political problems, but a medical condition. Secondly, little is known about this specific virus, but we will keep you informed as we receive guidance from reliable medical sources.
Please realize it is highly unlikely that you will find an entirely new and accurate understanding of what is going on through a website or single news story. What does make sense is to wash hands regularly, protect those who are vulnerable by limiting their potential exposure, and prepare to take care of our community in the event there are significant social and economic disruptions.
In no particular order, here are six responses to ideas that have been brought up by the media and our Hickory patients:
- As with any type of flu symptoms, we suggest not going to work if you have a fever. You could be actively spreading a disease that is dangerous. For this reason, even if you are feeling fine, it is important you do not go to work if you have a fever until we are able to test what is causing the illness.
- We are months away from securing a vaccine. This means the medically vulnerable among us have no preventive medical options. We are still awaiting a range of tests to see if there will be effective treatments using other available medications, but prevention is certainly our best option.
- There is no evidence spring, warm weather, or sunshine will deter this virus. Please note there are quite a number of cases spread on warm weather cruises. We need to be thinking about ways to keep risks down for a period of at least 6-12 months to give the system time to catch up.
- This is not a hoax and it is also not a biological weapon. I am happy to speak more to either of these statements if that is helpful. Please contact me.
- The coronavirus is much more dangerous than the flu for elderly people and for people with other health conditions. It is not much different than the seasonal flu for healthy young people. The reason there have been fewer deaths reported thus far is because very few people have had this virus while many more have had the seasonal flu.
- There are insufficient tests to give us a reasonable picture of what is going on. It appears, based on the Ohio Department of Health website, that 10 tests have been run in the state of Ohio and four are outstanding. As the number of tests goes up, we will have a better picture of what is happening.
I recommend seeking information from the Johns Hopkins website for general information about corona virus (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/). If you want to know what is happening in Ohio, check out the Ohio Department of Health (https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/)
If you have any questions and/or if you would like to discuss things further, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (937-404-2489).