COVID-19 will turn out to be a game-changer in everybody's life. Every industry in our society will be affected. Education, Health, Finance, Transportation, Big Business, Small Business, Professional Services, Entertainment, etc. Every facet of our life has just changed a few weeks ago.
By Unsung Heroes I mean that we are all in this together. Everybody is sacrificing both voluntarily as well as mandatory. If we succeed to ' flatten the curve' of this COVID-19 viral infection, by social distancing and semi-seclusion, we have saved lives. We have given our local hospitals the time to prepare, lessened their use of scarce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and saved the usage of mechanical ventilators.
Personally, my medical office is being rearranged in a big way. The mission of our office during this pandemic is to take the volume pressure off of the Emergency Departments (ED) of our local hospital. In that way, we 'flatten the curve'. We don't want unnecessary visits to the ED that use PPE and tie up resources. We are seeing all of our respiratory patients in our parking lot outside and evaluating them for COVID-19. We have tests available and are testing people based on CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommendations.
Due to the limitations of available tests, testing at this time is only recommended for specific groups of people. The current tests available are nasal swabs that are sent to either the state lab or commercial labs (LabCorp or Quest) which detect the actual virus infecting the mucous membranes. The turnaround time for results was at first atrocious, but now it is only about 4-5 days. A 15-minute test fingerstick test which looks for the antibody response from the patient, will not be wildly available for at least a few weeks to months. Unfortunately, the healthcare world has been caught significantly behind in this endeavor.
Masks are used to prevent the spread of the respiratory droplets that carry the virus to other people. They do NOT protect the person wearing them from catching the virus. If everybody wears masks then the population is protected as much as it can be. If only half of us wear them, then there is no point. I would stress EVERYBODY should wear a mask (either homemade or manufactured) out in public.
Gloves are only for single use. They will protect you when wearing them but will continue to spread the virus with anything that they touch. Grocery shopping is now a big issue. Please look up online the many recommendations for grocery shopping in this potentially contagious world.
A few of my patients have questioned the use of a certain class of hypertension medications called ACE and ARB as there have been anecdotal reports that these medicines encourage the COVID-19 infection. Bottom line is that the Cardiac and Heart Societies all say that nobody should stop these medications as nothing has been proven and that it would be significantly detrimental to the patient's health to stop these medicines.
Also, it is recommended to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) first to control the fever with COVID and then if necessary go to Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
The big wild card in all of this is the asymptomatic spread of the virus. That is, once people become infected with the virus, it takes a few days for fever, sore throat and cough to manifest. However, within those few days, people can be contagious. That is why strict handwashing is necessary and it should be done frequently. That is why social distancing is so important. That is why staying away from any public place is encouraged. Please go out of the house ONLY for necessary supplies or work.
Nobody knows when this COVID-19 Coronavirus is going to peak here in Maryland. Some say 2-3 weeks, others say 6-8 weeks. The only correct prediction is that the peak or surge is coming. We can 'lessen the curve' and be 'unsung heroes' if we abide by all of the recommendations from Governor Hogan now, not later.