The novel coronavirus has dominated new outlets throughout late 2019 and early 2020, but what do we really know about this deadly virus? And what information is truly important?
The New York Times, analyzing media coverage of the disease has dubbed the onslaught of news attention for coronavirus as an ‘infodemic’. Though some information available in the vast virtual world is reliable, the internet is also a buzz with much hazardous and false information about the new illness. To face wildly untrue claims, cast aside self-appointed experts, and prevent the erroneous transmission of information, a comprehensive overview of coronavirus is required. Well-established experts within the scientific, medical, and public health communities are ultimately considered the best sources of knowledge in understanding this emerging viral strain. (1)
The 2019 novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a relatively new infectious disease. Yet, the coronavirus as a viral family is not unknown to scientists, or the public for that matter. In 2002, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) spread to 37 countries, causing almost 800 deaths globally. SARS-CoV shook the world in many ways, prompting a massive reflection on public health policies, acute hospital resources, and infection control practices. Then, the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) spread in 2012 to 27 countries, and so far, has caused 858 deaths worldwide to date. Other strains of coronavirus, beyond SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, are often referred to as commonly circulating human coronaviruses. Overall, the family of coronaviruses shares a common structure and can present with similar symptoms, but each strain is markedly different as well. COVID-19 is the seventh member of the family of coronaviruses to infect humans. (2, 3)
Before the emergence of SARS-CoV, coronaviruses were considered more deadly to animals than humans, especially mammals, and had only been recorded as triggering gastrointestinal and respiratory infections among humans with diminished immunity. Pinpointing the exact origin of coronavirus as a viral category is difficult, but several researchers believe bats are the natural incubators and agents behind numerous coronavirus strains, including SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Scientists have warned in the past that coronavirus has shown a remarkable ability to change, mutate, and create new strains. (4)
- December 8, 2019 – Several cases of pneumonia of unknown origin are reported in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. The majority of these cases arose out of the Wuhan district surrounding the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where various live animals are sold.
- December 21, 2019 – Four lower respiratory tract samples are collected from patients with the pneumonia of unknown origin.
- December 31, 2019 – The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) dispatches a rapid response team to Wuhan to conduct an investigation. The unusual pneumonia cases were also reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).
- January 1, 2020 – Chinese health authorities close and disinfect the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market after it is discovered that the location, or the animals sold there, may have been the source of the virus.
- January 5, 2020 – China announces that the unknown pneumonia cases in Wuhan are not SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV.
- January 7, 2020 – Chinese authorities confirm they have identified the virus as a novel coronavirus, named COVID-19 by the WHO.
- January 11, 2020 – The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission announces the first death caused by COVID-19.
- January 13, 2020 – COVID-19 emerges outside of China for the first time, affecting a Chinese national visiting Thailand.
- January 20, 2020 – The National Institutes of Health in the United States announces it is working on a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
- January 21, 2020 – Washington state confirms the first case of COVID-19 on U.S. soil.
- January 25, 2020 – Chinese New Year celebrations draw concerns for the transmission of nCoV-2019 as air and train traffic peak across China. The Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau cancels all large-scale Lunar New Year celebrations.
- January 26, 2020 – The China Association of Travel Services reports that all tours, including international ones, will be suspended until COVID-19 resolution.
- January 31, 2020 – The Trump administration announces it will deny entry to any foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last 14 days.
- February 3, 2020 – China’s Foreign Ministry accuses the American government of reacting inappropriately to the outbreak.
- February 6, 2020 – Whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang who is credited with initially alerting the public about nCoV-2019 passes away from the virus. At this time, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally is 28,275, with more than 28,000 of those in China. A total of 565 deaths have occurred form the virus, all but two of which were in China (one in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong).
- February 7, 2020 – Pangolins, ant-eating mammals often used in traditional Chinese medicine, identified as a probable animal source of COVID-19.
- February 8, 2020 – First U.S. citizen dies from COVID-19.
- February 12, 2020 – Hundreds quarantined on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama, Japan.
- February 14, 2020 – First case reported in Africa and France reports its first death.
- February 18, 2020 – China’s daily infection figures drop below 2,000 for the first time since January.
- February 19, 2020 – Iran confirmed its first cases and death from COVID-19.
- February 21, 2020 – South Korea reports second death and at least 100 new cases.
- February 23, 2020 – Italy confirms third death and several countries shut their borders to battle the spread of the virus.
- February 24, 2020 – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman report first cases of COVID-19. The seventh death was reported in Italy. A seventh death was reported in South Korea and the number of cases sharply rose to 833. China’s death toll rose to 2,595 among 77,262 confirmed coronavirus cases.
- February 26, 2020 – Brazil, Georgia, Greece, North Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, Greece, Georgia, and Pakistan, report their first cases of coronavirus.
- February 27, 2020 – Denmark, Estonia, Northern Ireland, and the Netherlands report their first coronavirus cases.
- February 28, 2020 – More countries report cases of coronavirus and Italy remains an area of concern.
- February 29, 2020 – Travel restrictions announced by the United States as first death was reported.
- March 3, 2020 – The CDC lifts federal restrictions on testing in the United States. The WHO reports over 90,000 cases worldwide including ~3,000 deaths.
- March 10, 2020 – Both Italy and Iran report their highest number of deaths in a single day.
- March 11, 2020 – The WHO declares the coronavirus a pandemic. The United States enacts additional travel restrictions from continental Europe.
- March 13, 2020 – The United States declares the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency.
- March 15, 2020 – The CDC recommends gatherings of no more than 50 people.
- March 16, 2020 – New York orders bars, theaters, and cinemas to close as the number of cases continue to rise in the United States.
- March 17, 2020 – France imposes a nation-wide lockdown prohibiting gatherings and postponing elections. The E.U. bans most travelers for 30 days.
- March 19, 2020 – China reports no new domestic cases for the first time since the virus began to spread. Meanwhile, Italy reports the highest one-day death toll of any nation.
- March 21, 2020 – Europe is the epicenter of the outbreak with Italy and Spain having the highest number of deaths. Hawaii’s governor institutes mandatory 14-day quarantine for anyone arriving in Hawaii.
- March 23, 2020 – UN chief calls for a global ceasefire to focus on fighting coronavirus. Britain goes into lockdown.
- March 24, 2020 – Olympics in Tokyo delayed until 2021. India announces a 21-day lockdown.
- March 25, 2020 – The United States passed a $2 trillion stimulus deal to offset the economic damage of coronavirus.
- March 26, 2020 – The total number of global coronavirus cases passes 500,000.
- March 27, 2020 – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces he tested positive for the coronavirus.
- March 29, 2020 – The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world with more than 124,000 cases and over 2,000 deaths.
- March 30, 2020 – More states issue stay at home orders affecting 265 million Americans.
- March 31, 2020 – The United States surpasses China with the number of coronavirus-related deaths.
- April 2, 2020 – Global coronavirus confirmed cases exceed 1 million. Millions of Americans lose their jobs with an unprecedented number of unemployment filings.
- April 3, 2020 – The CDC urges all Americans to wear masks when leaving their homes.
- April 5, 2020 – U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson hospitalized for coronavirus.
- April 7, 2020 – Japan declared a state of emergency and Singapore begins partial lockdown.
- April 8, 2020 – The U.K. records highest daily death toll, Wuhan begins allowing people to leave for the first time in 76 days since lockdown, companies announce vaccine trials.
- April 9, 2020 – The number of cases in the U.S. exceeds 450,000 including over 15,000 deaths.
- April 10, 2020 – The number of global deaths exceeds 101,000 with over 1.6 million people infected. The number of hospitalizations in Russia doubled from previous week.
- April 12, 2020 – U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson released from the hospital.
- April 14, 2020 – Some European nations begin easing lockdown restrictions. Nigeria, France, and India extend lockdown dates.
(2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
The novel coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets, often generated by sneezing or coughing. Anyone too close to an infected person who breathes in these droplets may become infected with the virus. That’s why the CDC recommends keeping everyone at a social distance of at least six feet apart. COVID-19 is also believed to survive on hard surfaces from anywhere from a few hours to several days. Simple disinfectants should be used on surfaces that have come in contact with a person who has the novel coronavirus.
Health researchers are also looking into who is at the highest risk of becoming ill from novel coronavirus. More research is needed on this topic, but experts suspect that older people (particularly older males), and those with pre-existing medical conditions (like heart disease, chronic respiratory illness, immunosuppression, and diabetes) have the highest risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. However, we’re also seeing young, healthy people die from this disease. So, it should be heeded with extreme caution regardless of age or medical history.
Those infected with the novel coronavirus may have a significant delay in the onset symptoms (a feature unique to coronavirus!) or remain asymptomatic. The first COVID-19 patients began to show signs and symptoms of the illness between 1 to 14 days (with an average of 5 to 6 days) after contact with a known coronavirus source. Additionally, people infected with COVID-19 may be infectious before showing symptoms. While more research is needed on all fronts, so far the most likely method of person-to-person transmission seems to be from someone showing symptoms. At this time it is theorized that people are the most contagious when they are the most symptomatic, or, the sickest. (11, 12)
Signs and Symptoms
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. These symptoms typically appear 2-14 days being exposed to the virus. If you develop more acute symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, bluish lips or face, or you feel newly confused, seek medical attention. Additionally, as we learn more about this virus, other symptoms have been reported such as gastrointestinal issues including diarrhea.
In general, however, seek medical help if you suspect you have contracted any severe illness, regardless of cause. (5, 11, 13)
Determining who has and who doesn’t have novel coronavirus has been done largely using polymerase chain reaction testing (PCR), which is an artificial DNA replication technique. Using PCR, the viral components of COVID-19 have been identified among patients and confirmed the shared source of illness. Samples for PCR testing are currently obtained via swabs of the upper respiratory tract (from the throat or nose), but this may change as more is understood by researchers about the novel coronavirus. Other respiratory viruses, like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, are currently tested for in a similar manner. It’s important to note most people who contract the virus will have mild symptoms and can recover at home. While the CDC provides guidelines for testing, these decisions are left to the discretion of state and local health departments and individual clinicians. (5, 14)
As COVID-19 is a very new disease, there is currently no medicine to prevent or treat it. Any claims on the internet for a medication to prevent or treat COVID-19 are false. Additionally, because COVID-19 is a virus and not a bacteria, antibiotics are, unfortunately, not able to treat this infectious disease either. However, there are treatments to relieve the symptoms and support the course of COVID-19 for those in the throes of illness. For instance, patients who are severely ill with COVID-19 may have their breathing supported with oxygen, a breathing tube, and a mechanical ventilator within a critical care setting.
Although there is no treatment at present for COVID-19, that doesn’t mean there never will be. Researchers are hard at work investigating potential treatments through clinical trials. There are also 70 vaccines in development, three of which are in the human trials stage. The WHO and the National Institutes of Health are coordinating a few of these efforts to develop treatments for COVID-19 with a range of partners. (11)
The best way to prevent the transmission of any illness is to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene. Regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub if a sink is unavailable. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching your face regularly. Cough into a sleeve or material-based surface instead of your hands. A mask may help limit the transmission of illness but is not a guaranteed method to protect yourself. And, with a shortage of protective equipment for healthcare workers, it’s recommended that you leave N95 masks for the healthcare professionals. Homemade masks can help prevent you from spreading the disease by catching respiratory droplets if you are asymptomatic and unknowingly carrying the disease. If you feel at all ill, please self-isolate at home and do not change infecting others.
If you do find yourself in a public setting in the next few months, it’s best to keep a social distance (2 meters or 6 feet), avoid those feeling unwell, and diminish contact with undercooked meats.
If you develop a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, stay home and consider seeking medical care. Medical care is especially important if you have had contact with someone who has been traveling abroad or is known to have coronavirus. A number of illnesses can cause respiratory symptoms and COVID-19 could potentially be one of them. (11, 12)
It’s also important to take care of your mental health during this time. Take periodic breaks from the news to give your mind a reprieve from the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic. While we’re all practicing social distancing for our health, it should really be thought of as ‘physical distancing.’ Keep in contact with your friends and family at a safe distance and reach out for support if you need it. Make sure to feed your body healthy foods, get enough sleep, get daily exercise, and practice stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, reading, walking, and playing with your kids or pets.
Risk Assessment And Monitoring
Looking at the situation in the United States, there has been a spread of novel coronavirus from person-to-person. These cases originally occurred between travelers from Wuhan and close family or friends. The situation has escalated into a global pandemic and is spreading through communities worldwide. As such, the potential public health threat posed by the COVID-19 virus has been assessed as high, both globally and in the United States. As the virus continues to spread throughout the United States, more states are enacting ‘shelter-in-place’ ordinances. The goal is not to prevent the spread of the coronavirus – we are well beyond that possibility. The goal, instead, is to slow the spread of the virus so that healthcare workers can treat patients who require hospitalization. If everyone gets the disease all at once, it would overwhelm the healthcare system. So, instead, and you may have heard this term, the goal is to ‘flatten the curve,’ or spread the rate of infections out over a longer period of time.
What Precautions are Being Taken?
The U.S. federal government is working closely with state, local, and global partners to produce a multi-layered response to this public health threat. Front line healthcare workers like nurses and doctors are being informed on how to best protect themselves and other patients from coronavirus. Travel officials have taken the unprecedented action of suspending foreign nationals who have visited China within the past 14 days from entering the country. Measures to detect this virus among those who are allowed entry into the United States (U.S. citizens, residents, and family) who have been in China within 14 days also are being implemented. All of these interventions combined are helping to lower the risk to the American public.
It’s also worth noting The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an important force within the American novel coronavirus response effort. The CDC has published guides for healthcare professionals on the clinical care of COVID-19 patients, developed the necessary PCR testing to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19 on American soil, and uploaded the entire viral genome of reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States to GenBank as sequencing was completed. Furthermore, the CDC has grown a viral cell culture of COVID-19, which will be important to future research and genetic testing of the virus. (15)
Want To Know More About Coronavirus?
Keeping yourself and your family safe from COVID-19 can feel incredibly challenging as more information about this infectious disease seems to be released daily. I encourage you to stay tuned to our website for the latest updates on the novel coronavirus and refer to the WHO website as a supplement. The WHO is the foremost global expert on COVID-19, and referring to their website regularly will ensure you accurately understand this new infectious disease. Check out the entire WHO news center for COVID-19 by clicking here. So please, stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands!
Covid 19 Q & A From the Facebook Live
Q: Will Warm Weather Help Slow the Virus?
I get asked a lot and I’m sure that a lot of you are also thinking about is what about this warm weather? Are we going to be out of the woods if we get warmer weather? Well, here’s the thing, we think that because of the fact that most Coronavirus have a cyclical kind of pattern meaning worse in the winter and better in the warmer months. Let’s think about the flu for example. The flu in the cold, we know that you get worsening in the winter months, but in the spring and summer it seems to go away.
There are a lot of theories about why, is it because of the fact that there’s sunlight? And some people have looked at UV rays killing the virus, does your vitamin D level go up in these colder climates where you have sun? Whatever the case is, we see that the sobering news that in China it doesn’t support the idea of warmer weather killing or slowing the virus. It seems that the transmission of the Coronavirus did not seem to change in cities where temperature and humidity were higher.
So it doesn’t mean that it’s not going to get better. What I’m seeing is that it doesn’t seem like it will… you look at countries where there’s warmer temperatures like Iran, right? Iran was hit super hard and they had warmer temperatures. Anybody who lives in Australia, any of my folks that are in Australia will tell you that also is a place where it’s warmer and they were hit as well. So it doesn’t mean that the warmer temperature is going to be a savior for all of us. It may be, and I’m hopeful it is. The bottom line is, it’s premature to think that the warmer temperatures is going to be everything to control COVID until we get better treatment, effective treatment.
Q: Do we have effective treatments for Covid19?
I know there’s some treatments out there people. I’ve talked about hydroxychloroquine and erythromycin. There’s all kinds of medicines out there. We don’t have great treatment trials for that yet, and vaccines also, we don’t have vaccines. Until we have those, social distancing, appropriate disinfecting, washing your hands with soap and water. All of those things would be great, and I’ll talk to you about this again and again, but I also really recommend that because we’re at home, it doesn’t mean that we stop our Health Hero methodologies, right?
Q: How should I be eating, sleeping, and exercising during the Pandemic?
The topic of this live stream is Health Heroes Solutions for the Coronavirus or the Coronavirus pandemic. That means eat appropriately. It doesn’t mean eat pizza every single day. Hey, you want to have pizza once in a while, it’s okay. But you don’t want eat a bunch of crap every single day, take out every single day. It’s not going to help the virus. Also, something I’ve struggled with my whole life is to get adequate sleep, six to eight hours of sleep is going to be tremendous for you, tremendous.
Go out there and please exercise, do something, right? Get out there and move with purpose. It doesn’t mean because you’re quarantined in your house and isolating and having fun with your family doesn’t mean you can’t go out there and get some real fresh air, get some sunshine and walk out there. It doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing all that, right? Getting the appropriate nutrition, and getting the right amount of sleep.
Q: Masks: “So masks are only recommended,” somebody says, “when we leave the house, right?”
Listen, you can wear masks all the time if you want, but what you want to do is avoid not having a mask if you’re out in public, right, with groups of people. So you want to make sure that you use that precaution to wear a mask. If you want to wear it everywhere, it’s not going to hurt you. But typically I would say if you’re in public places is where you want to wear masks. If you want to wear masks at home, go for it, it is not going to hurt you. But I think mainly you want to be able to do this in places where you feel like you’re in public places where you can really make sure that you’re not compromising your health.
Q: What should we do in regards to Hand Sanitizer?
I heard in the poison center in Michigan that people are getting calls for accidental misuse of hand sanitizer, really, really tragic. So what some people are doing is consuming hand sanitizer, right? Consuming hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol, really dangerous, right? Really dangerous. They’re poisonous and you can end up hospitalized and die. So also there are people who can’t find hand sanitizer and are using dangerous products instead. Like I’m talking about paint thinner, I’m talking about windshield washer fluid, lighter fluid, chafing fluid. Really important not to do this.
There’ve been even reports of people drinking antifreeze, which is dangerous, super dangerous. Please don’t consume or use these products for your hand. You could end up with dangerous effects on your skin, your eyes, your mouth, throat, stomach. And the best way to get rid of germs is guess what? Wash your hands, right? Wash your hands with soap and water. Really, really important. If you want to make your own hand sanitizer, if you have the ability, two-thirds cup of rubbing alcohol, a third a cup of Aloe vera, you can drop a few drops of essential oil to make it smell nice, you can do that.
Q: Should I wear glasses instead of contacts?
You may have heard this as well, the American Academy of Ophthalmology provided some tips and they recommended that you wear glasses instead of contact lenses during this pandemic. And that’s because one, you’re less likely to rub or touch your eyes as much when you… Anybody’s worn contact lenses, I have, be like rubbing in and doing all this stuff, right? So you want to be able to protect your eyes. So you if you have glasses, you’re likely not going to rub your eyes as much. And also they can also help you protect your eyes from respiratory droplets that contain the Coronavirus.
However, if you want to wash your contact lenses, you don’t have to wear them rather, you make sure that you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before taking them out. So you don’t just want to take your hands without washing them, take your contact lens out. But the bottom line is if you can wear your glasses during this time.
Q: Health Hero Pillar: Tribe & Community, Staying Connected During the Pandemic
If anybody’s known about my Health Hero principles, one of my biggest pillars I call is tribe or community. And it’s never been a better time to get acquainted with your tribe and your community. My family, physically, is my biggest tribe and community and I’ve been really blessed to be able to get close to them. And a lot of my friends have said the same thing. If you don’t have an immediate family, please reach out via electronics, FaceTime, whatnot. If you have a Facebook group that you are with, whatever you need to do, reach out.
If you have a neighbor, you guys can reach out with some boundaries, right? You can be 50, 100 feet away and still talk to each other and get acquainted. It’s really important at this time because we need our mental health. Super important to talk about that.
Q: What Should I do about Takeout Food?
I’d like to support local restaurants, but it seems like you never know who’s preparing your food. Absolutely. Listen, if you can cook at home, you can, but I think you can safely still get takeout. Make sure that you take the food out of the packaging, wash your hands with soap and water after that. Really, really important to do that. But it doesn’t mean that you’re lost. Some people still want to do take out, you can do that safely. Remember, all these restaurants are really doing everything they can because they first of all, don’t want to get sick themselves. Secondly, they want to protect the community. I’m just so proud of everything that our communities are doing to safeguard the health of the entire community.
Q: Can Stress Exacerbate Covid Symptoms?
Yes, stress can exacerbate any symptom that you have. That’s why it’s so important at this time to not absolutely freak out. I think it’s super important to be concerned and take everything seriously. But to freak out is not going to help, right? This is how it is. So when you have stress, what happens? When you have stress, your body’s immune system doesn’t function as well, especially if it’s stress on a chronic basis. If you are stressed, you don’t sleep well. If you stressed, your cortisol level really go up and it really goes out of control. If you have cortisol levels that’s unabated, unopposed and continues, your whole body doesn’t function well. Not just your immune system, but every part of your body.
Remember there are 330 million Americans. There’s billions of people around the world and several of millions and millions of people have chronic diseases. So let’s say even if 10% of people have chronic diseases, even let’s say we don’t even think about the Coronavirus pandemic. What about the rest of your disease states like diabetes? Let’s say you have an autoimmune disease. All those can get worse with stress and all those can put you at increased risk for Coronavirus. So stress is really important to try to manage.
And so how do you do that? I really think doing movement, getting out there, getting out in the fresh air, walking, biking, running, whatever you want to do or even if you do it indoors, will literally help. Movement with purpose, one of my best, best pillars. And then also if you are very religious then prayer at this time is super important. If you’re not religious, doing yoga, doing meditation really brings it down the level of stress. Super important. One of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life is start meditation. You can do a Tai Chi, you can walk in the garden, whatever it takes. So you know that you’re part of a supportive environment, that really helps, really helps.
Q: If you’ve had Covid19, can you be a carrier?
Great question. So we’re looking at that kind of information, right? So the best example is hepatitis B. So once you’ve had it you can be. Some people can be a carrier. So we don’t know that yet or we don’t know about the carrier state. What we’re doing is trying to get the antibody testing formalized and getting it widespread. So what do I mean by that? Remember when your body gets infected, one of the first reactions is you get an IgM antibody, which is the immediate kind of knock them dead antibody that gets created. But that is followed by IgG and that’s kind of your longer term protection. So we’ve got to find out are there people that are not going to be symptomatic that continue to be PCR positive, which means that they show evidence of the infection. So we have to find that out. My guess is going to be that that’s not going to be the case, but we have to find out.
Q: Where did this all get started?
As far as we can tell in Wuhan, China, right? This got started at the live seafood market and it really tells you how infectious this is. This is almost three times as infectious as the influenza and people don’t have any immunity to the COVID-19. So once it finds a susceptible host, it spreads very quickly, three times, three times as quickly. And so once you get it to one person, they can infect three.
And if you know mathematics logarithmically, one person infects three, three to the power of three to the power of three, it just keeps going logarithmically. So it means that one person doesn’t just infect one person and infects three. So with worldwide travel the way it is, before we kind of recognized what the infection was, people traveled everywhere, right? And then you had those cruise ships that came with tons of infected people. Some actually went out in the public. You remember that we flew a bunch of infected people along with folks that were not infected in a plane, in a 747 and they came out. So there are so many reasons for this to be spreading.
And then once it went to Europe and we were traveling from Europe to the US. So we have some evidence that much of the cases in New York were from Europe. But we feel that the epicenter was in Wuhan, China and it spread around the world. Right now we have it and this is to me one of the cases where the entire world, it’s amazing, the entire world is galvanized. They forgot all of their differences and said, “We are in it to win it. We are going to conquer this.” And I’m so proud.
Q: Should I postpone my non-emergency doctor visits?
I think most doctors are postponing non-emergency visits because this is one way we’re fighting the virus. To be able to not have congregation of people in one place like in waiting rooms, like in doctor’s offices. Now here’s the thing, lots of doctors and you can ask your doctor, are doing telemedicine. I’m doing telemedicine. We’re talking to patients, interacting with them visually, audio, audio-visually and looking at the records and making recommendations. I can refill my medication from the computer and your doctor should be able to as well. So, please ask your doctor. Number one, are they doing telemedicine now? All of the cares like Medicare, Blue Cross is, others, they’re allowing telephone visits as well.
So you may be able to talk to your doctor via the telephone or via some FaceTime to be able to do that. All of the insurance companies have allowed to do that. So absolutely, you should not let your irregular medical conditions suffer during this time.
Q: When I wear a mask my glasses fog up, what should I do?
So what you want to do is make sure that you have a good fit on your nose with the mask. The masks have two ends, right? The one for your nose and you can really squeeze it so it’s nice and tight. When air doesn’t escape, it helps to not fog it up. So what you want to do is if you have a homemade mask, make sure you have a nice tight fit right where your nose is. And test it out before you go out in public. What happens is a lot of us, “Okay, we’re in a hurry.” We’re always in a hurry. We’re always, “We’re going to go, go, go.” Go to the grocery store or the pharmacy or wherever, we’re going to go, go, go. And then we don’t test the mask and we’re adjusting it in the store.
Adjusting it so all the stuff that’s coming in from the outside, you’re touching it with your hands and you touch your face and you touch your nose, whatever you do, right? You basically don’t want to manipulate your mask. You want to practice that stuff at home in a safe environment then you want to mess with that stuff.
Q: What are people with compromised immune system supposed to do that work in the essential fast food industry?
Clearly people who are immunocompromised are at increased risk, right? So no doubt about that, right? But as long as you’re not symptomatic, you can still safely work. Make sure you follow the precautions. Wear a mask if you’re getting in contact with folks, make sure that you practice social distancing. If you’re in the fast-food industry, maybe the drive-through window or where you’re dropping off, people are picking up food is not the place for you. Maybe it’s in the back where you’re preparing food. We’ve got to adjust ourselves. But this time you can safely work in the fast-food industry or the grocery industry, just make sure you protect yourself. So I tell my patients who are taking medicines like infliximab or Remicade that have autoimmune disease, I still tell them you can work safely just make sure you take the precautions.
Q: Hand Washing and Handling Groceries.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds several times per day. We bring the groceries in. We have a designated area where we bring up groceries, we take them out of the packages and then we wash your hands. That’s how you do it. Get the mail, get packages from FedEx, UPS, whatever, right? You’re getting deliveries from Amazon, wash your hands, wash your hands. Listen, I think that was good advice even after the pandemic. I hope people don’t forget that after the pendant you can still wash your hands. Really important stuff.
Q: Is it safe to take Ibruprofen with the Coronavirus?
A question came up about Advil and ibuprofen. As far as we can tell right now, there’s no definite evidence that taking ibuprofen short term is going to make the virus live more. I repeat, taking ibuprofen like Advil will not make the virus worsen your body for short term. Now, if you take it for a longterm, meaning, continue to take it every single day, maybe a different story. But not just for the Coronavirus but for the rest of your body. It can affect your kidneys, it can affect your GI system. But for now I think that you can take Advil if you need to for short term.
Q: I have a severe tooth-ache, what should I do?
If you can take Tylenol, that’d be great. If you can see a dentist, I would. Because if you have a tooth abscess, that’s an emergency, right? You don’t want to die from some infection because you’re worried about the Coronavirus, right? So I’m not saying you should go get your teeth cleaned for your regular visit. No. Your six months stuff, I’ve got to get my teeth cleaned. Somebody want to get their cleaning. That’s not what I’m talking about, right? That’s not what I’m talking about. We’re talking about emergencies, urgent situations.
So we’re talking about emergencies, when you have situations that could kill you. So if your appendix is bursting, but you’re worried about getting the COVID, you don’t want to die from your appendix bursting and getting sepsis, right? This is the point. You don’t want to sit there and have a real problem kill you so that you prevent yourself from getting a potential problem. COVID isn’t really a serious problem. But if you have a serious issue, this is really important to understand.
If you have a tumor that could potentially be life changing, life altering, could cause death, you don’t want to sit there and say, “I’m not going to see anybody because I’m worried about COVID.” Because you have a real problem. So Ali, if you feel like your tooth ache is severe, see your dentist. I mean, they’ll make sure that they protect themselves, protect you. Listen, all the patients that are having elective procedures from me, things like they have a colonoscopy because they’re 60 years of age and they’ve had polyps before, we’re not doing those.
However, if you’re having diarrhea to the point where you’re wearing adult diapers, if you’re bleeding, I’m going to see you and I want to take care of you and I have been, right? We do those procedures so we can help folks to be able to not have something change their lives. Because for the next six weeks we could be doing what we’re doing now. I don’t want folks to then suffer and have adverse consequences, possibly lose their life because they’re worried about COVID. You should be concerned, but you should not ignore problems that are urgent and are necessary to be taken care of.