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Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!

 As we celebrate those brave men and women in the military who helped us remain a land of liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we should acknowledge those who have fallen to the Coronavirus. All of us should consider doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus as Governors reopen the country the COVID-19 pandemic challenges continue to grow. How do we get back to normal? We do not get back to normal. Risk-benefit has always shaped social behaviors. Most of us would not take a short-cut by walking down a dark alley. Let us not take a short cut by being irresponsible as we make our way out of shelter-in-place. What is the dark alley in the COVID-19 experience?

 Dark alley number one: What are the actual risks of getting an infection from another person? I predict, one hundred percent. Someone sometime will pass this virus to you when you least expect it. It is no different than any other infection transmitted by human to human spread.  We must take care of ourselves and take care of others. We take care of ourselves by keeping our hands clean, wearing a mask, and staying at a safe physical distance away from others we do not know.

 Dark alley number two: What places are risk-free? In my case, my home and our office are risk-free places as well as our backyard and other outdoor environments if I am alone or accompanied by my wife (which I prefer). There is a reason why shelter-in-place reduced the curve’s slope; there was minimal human contact between unfamiliar people. As we open the county again, all human to human interaction will create risk for being infected especially with familiar people who do not observe good judgement when in public, especially in large crowds. If you are symptomatic in the least, stay inside and do not go to work. A mask will not protect anyone from you if you are spewing hundreds of virions in each breath; have respect for others and their safety.

 Dark alley number three: If one contracts the virus, what are the chances the infection will be catastrophic or mortal? The incidence of death related to COVID-19 disease is unknown; most likely, mortality strikes about 0.3 to 0.5 percent of those infected. It is higher than influenza A and B viruses. The idea that death is reserved only for those with comorbid conditions is simply not accurate. At the time of this writing, 99,642 people have died from the COVID-19 infection. Those who are immune compromised are at higher risk for severe infection, however many healthy young people and children have died from the virus. Everyone is at risk.

Dark alley number four: How many people in the US have gotten infected from the virus?  I believe that the virus has infected 19,624,000 people, of which only 1.7 million people have tested positive. The US population is roughly 328 million. According to my calculations, approximately six percent of our society is infected. The health departments across the country have confirmed 1.68 million cases, which is probably less than ten percent of the actual infections. Three factors are causing the testing activity to lag behind the infection rate. One is that the test, regardless of the analysis, is hugely flawed. Multiple tests are necessary to reveal a positive case. If you have had a test and it was negative, it does not mean you do not have COVID-19. It means your test was negative at the time you agreed to the test. The second is that healthcare professionals are performing analysis of symptomatic patients only. The symptom list continues to grow. The third is that manufacturers cannot keep up with the demand for testing. We are allowed three nasal swabs per day. We are happy to get those.

 Dark alley number five: What precautions should we take to reduce the possibility of getting the virus? I am not aware of any behaviors that will thwart the virus. The virus does what the virus does. I believe a few simple actions may help minimize the rate of infection. The first is to wear a mask when interacting with others in any setting. The facial covering protects people from you. If you are fortunate to have a respirator that filters the air you breathe, it will also protect you. The second is to keep your distance to six feet or more when interacting with the masses. Studies from Hong Kong show that even if you are in an isolation suit, wearing gloves, a mask, and a face shield, you will probably contract the virus if you are within three feet of a person with COVID-19 for thirty minutes or more. Use a thirty-minute rule with those who are closest to you. Wear gloves when possible. If you do not have disposable gloves, use hand sanitizer as often as necessary.

 There is little doubt that COVID-19 will mutate. How and when is up to pure speculation. The idea of vaccination is a mere fantasy at this point. Scientists have worked on a vaccine for COVID-2 for at least fifteen years. So far, they have come up with nothing. There will be drugs to reduce the severity of the infection. Unfortunately, drug companies will cost them out at thousands of dollars for triple-drug therapy. They will price them as if they were keeping each of us out of the hospital, thereby alleviating the cost of hospitalization. I believe more than fifty percent of our population will be infected by this time next year—maybe more than fifty percent. Will there be another surge this fall? Who knows? Anyone who speaks with great certainty about COVID-19 speaks with forked tongue. Everything written above is what I believe or predict based on forty years of medical practice and the scientific articles written about COVID-2; none of it is guaranteed. There is always the possibility that the virus will mutate and weaken. Anything is possible.

 In this time of uncertainty, error on the side of caution. We have no choice but to endure the pandemic. Make no mistake about it, every one of our citizens will experience death, dying and/or disease as the pandemic unfolds. We will have peaks in each community at different times of the year. As some communities recover, others will surge with cases.   We might see one hundred fifty thousand deaths before the first wave subsides. For once, I would like all of us to support all of us. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and make sure you follow safe distancing techniques while ushering in a more open society. Wearing a mask shows solidarity, a sign that we can think of others as much as we think of ourselves.

 I do not think the US calvary is coming any time soon.

Doc

 

Posted by Roxanne Evans at 8:21 AM
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