COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update

While I am accustomed to speaking to medical professionals, it is important to put politics and tendency toward hysteria aside so that we can better understand the course of viral infections, in general, and COVID-19, specifically.

It is a fact that many of us, but not all of us, will become infected with this virus. For the vast majority those who are infected will have symptoms which are typical of the common flu…fever, chills and a cough. Unfortunately, the time when we are infectious with this and most viruses we have no symptoms. Hence the transmission problem. For those who are immunocompromised (chronic illnesses, advanced age) many will succumb to any viral infection, including COVID-19 (Corona virus). With this in mind, one needs to understand why we are advised to “quarantine” or minimize potential exposure to any virus, and that reason is not because by doing so we will develop “immunity” to the virus, therefore protecting us from becoming infected. Whether we are infected today, or in 6 weeks, or in 6 months we have a risk of developing symptoms.

Many think that by delaying exposure we can “wait it out” until a vaccine is available which would provide inherent protection against the disease. It is important to know that it will take many, many months, if not years, before an effective vaccine is developed, to that is not a realistic expectation.

The main reason for quarantining is to avoid overwhelming our health care systems, so that we have the capacity to care for those who become very ill. In our communities there are just so many hospital beds available, and this limits how many people we can provide care for if the patient is in a high risk population and becomes infected. Avoiding overwhelming the health care systems.

These images help demonstrate why we want people not to panic, or to be flippant regarding any viral infection, be that Corona virus, or H1N1, or the “Bird flu”, Influenza A, Influenza B…and the list goes on and on.

With this in mind, and given what we are learning about the COVID-19 infections, we feel that the “peak” of infections is happening right now. Why right now? Because initially people were not taking the precautions that are important…hand washing, avoiding touching our face with our hands (after touching things in our every day lives), avoiding being around people who appear ill. In a weird sort of way I think the Corona virus has made us become healthier and less prone to getting many illnesses (like the flu and the “common cold”). Now that we are aware, new cases If nothing else, we can take that from the challenges that we now face.

While I understand that our government leaders have asked for cancellation of all public events, it is my feeling that, medically speaking, this approach is only necessary for at most a few weeks. I think this is exactly why most States and Cities who have cancelled schools and classes have wisely chosen to do so for only two weeks. That number of weeks was chosen to avoid overwhelming our health care systems. To do so longer has no scientific or medical basis. To do so longer would worsen the economic and personal hardships that we are experiencing and can continue to experience. We can take the positive and continue good hygiene, hand washing, etc, and positively impact our collective health. 

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