COVID-19 Update 3/12/20

The first three cases of the new coronavirus in Ohio were announced on Monday afternoon (3/9).  We have since learned of a fourth and fifth case that are more problematic because they were spread within the state.  In an interview today, officials with the governor’s office estimated that these results are likely representative of a 1% infection rate within the population of Ohio (or roughly 100,000 cases.)   Tests remain rare, but we are hopeful that more will become available in the coming days and we will be able to get a better idea of what is happening in our state and in our community. 
Today (Thursday) we also learned about extended school closures and limitations on gatherings.  While this may seem extreme, we believe this is wise and want to support Governor DeWine and the Ohio’s health board to make the best of this situation.
We want to be very clear - this is not a time to panic BUT the situation is serious and likely to get much more difficult.  Most of us have very little to fear for ourselves because we will recover from the illness; however, we all need to do the best that we can to take care of the people who are vulnerable.  Our goal is to slow the spread of the coronavirus down as much as we can so that our medical facilities can keep up with the needs of the community.

Please note the following two points:
First, remember the role of Hickory through this outbreak.  We are here to help in any way that we can.  When it comes to COVID-19, we will help you find treatment through Mary Rutan Hospital if necessary and manage treatment at home if possible. If you have symptoms such as a fever, cough, and/or sore throat call us but do not come in to the office. Remember, we will be treating lots of people in the higher risk categories in the office and we want to keep them safe. 

Second, we must be aware of our risk.  Based on the fatality rates in China, here is what we know:

  1. If you are over 50 this is much more dangerous than standard flu.  If you are under the age of 50, your risk is less.
  2. If you have any other illnesses including asthma, COPD, or anything that weakens your immune system, you are at a much higher risk of complications.
  3. While you might experience very few or no noticeable symptoms, you might be able to transmit the disease which means that you might be a risk to others.  EVERYONE must be careful when interacting with people who are in high risk groups.  Call and chat with grandparents or folks who are ill.  If you child has asthma or other illnesses, be particularly careful.
  4. Even “low” risk is not as low as it seems.  If we do not take steps to slow this infection, we could have more than 70% of the population infected.  At these levels of infection, in even the lowest risk categories, there would be 1-2 deaths per 1,000 people (think of the impact that this would have on local schools or at your place of work).  So for all of us, limiting exposure really does make a difference.

Again, we will make it through this and we have what we need to make it through this in good shape if we can slow the spread of the virus.  I know you have seen it a lot, but really do wash hands, avoid unnecessary contact with others, and cover your coughs.  Remember, the cancellations and safety precautions may not be for you, we are doing this to take care of folks who do need extra protection.

As always, I love hearing from any of you.  I can be reached at this email or by phone (937-404-2489), anytime.
Extra credit:  If you’d like to learn a bit about the math and spread of disease, here is a particularly nerdy video from YouTube that does a great job of describing it: