I am a physician, father, grandfather, and son of two parents who have medical conditions. Thus, I am surrounded by sick people. Grandkids come to the house all the time and one is living with us. I am exposed to viruses and bacteria more so than the general public. The current Corona virus issue in the world has not changed a single thing I do to protect myself nor has it changed any of the advice I give my patients each flu season. I will list those things in a moment.
My clinic has had a surge of calls asking if we sell hand sanitizer, face masks, and do we do COVID-19 tests. First, I am not an expert on the COVID-19 virus. However, as a physician I do have general knowledge in epidemiology and the ability to interpret the actual data that is being reported by the legitimate science and epidemiologic sources. Remember, the media, and especially social media are not experts in understanding epidemiology and scientific interpretation of data “Death of the Expert”.
Many are trying to compare the influenza (The Flu) with the COVID-19 virus and you will hear different media reports about the two. Bottom line from the physician world: As of this writing the CDC has reported that in the case of The Flu in U.S alone over 30 to 40 million illnesses, over 350,000 to 500,000 hospitalizations, and over 20,000 to 30,000 deaths this season.
So far, COVID-19 has had over 3100 deaths worldwide. The Flu is well studied but we know little of COVID-19 virus so we really do not know what the actual progression of what this virus will be. Scientist can only estimate. Here is a good discussion on this subject:
For multiple reasons you will be seeing a big surge in the number of cases in the next month. There will be a significant increase in testing thus there will be an increased number reported. This is flu season people. How you took care of yourself over the last year and how you currently take care of yourself determines how robust your immune system is in fighting off infections overall.
My advice has been and will always be the same: 1. Wash your hands…..a lot, especially when going out in public, 2. Stay home if you are in the beginnings of an infectious illness, 3. Minimize exposure when sneezing and coughing, 4. Take care of yourself by eating more fresh fruits and veggies, drinking plenty of water, and getting good sleep. 5. Wipe down and clean often the dirtiest things in your life: Cell phone, computer keyboard, toothbrush and toothbrush holder, bathroom sink, kitchen towels, and kitchen sponges.
The good news is the COVID-19 virus is not particularly dangerous to children. The regular flu is. The bad news is that it is dangerous to anyone with an underlying respiratory illness and the elderly. So, we need to focus on slowing down the spread of this disease. And the best way to do that is to simply WASH YOUR HANDS! No really…wash your hands! I am still amazed at what I saw today: People using public bathrooms and walking out without washing hands, people wiping their noses right before going through a door, going to the gym obviously sick, licking their fingers to count paper money. On the same day people are calling my clinic to buy masks and buying out the locals stores for toilet paper.
A recent study reported that this virus is most likely being transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces. However, it is still important to note that there is transmission from person to person. Wash your hands going in and out of a public building or room. Soap and water, soap and water, soap and water. Unless you are actively sick, you do not need a mask! My wife said all the local grocery stores were out of Clorox wipes today. Using a tablespoon of Clorox mixed with tap water in a standard size spray bottle will do the trick. An inexpensive way to clean off a kitchen sponge is to pour a little hydrogen peroxide on it once a day and change it for a new one before it gets “ratty.”
And “Holy Viral Spit Batman!”………. Stay home if you are sick! Seriously. Clean the mostly touched surfaces of your house (doorknobs, computers, bathroom and kitchen sinks, TV remote controls, etc.
Here is a wonderful summary given by Dr. Emily Landon at the University of Chicago Medicine:
A few months ago, we did not know this virus even existed. In no way am I minimizing the issue. It is now a community acquired issue which makes it more unpredictable. A new catch phrase “social distancing” is now a thing: The idea of minimizing hugging, handshaking, and temporarily reducing socializing in public places such as entertainment or sporting events to help slow down and even stop the spread of highly contagious diseases.
It is flu and cold season. Independent of this new virus, we need to practice the basics of personal hygiene. If the general public follows the basic preventative hygiene habits maybe, just maybe we can shorten this flu season and get back to buying toilet paper without thinking it is the Apocalypse.