coronavirus

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How can we safely open up our lives in Southwest Oklahoma?

How can we safely open up our lives in Southwest Oklahoma?
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The most important lessons about reopening the community are learned from places that never locked down in the first place: hospitals.

As the author of this linked article describes it, in the face of enormous risks, American hospitals have learned how to avoid becoming sites of coronavirus spread.

This approach to reopening the community that is documented to make the difference can be thought of like a “combination therapy” or a “drug cocktail.” These ingredients (below) are all familiar to you. Each has flaws. But skip one, and the treatment doesn’t work. Taken together – and taken seriously – the virus is shut down.

1. Hygiene measurescleaning your hands frequently. In the previous 2002 SARS epidemic, hand washing 10 times a day cut down transmission by over 50%. Disinfecting surfaces is likely very important, also, though less research exists.

2. Screeningtaking temperatures prior to entry to a building; and also self-reporting of a new fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, and even just persistent nasal congestion/runny nose.

Ideally, we will test people with new symptoms to allow people to quickly get back to work or to life, without quarantine. Without testing, people with symptoms should self-quarantine for at least seven days from the start of their symptoms and until they’ve been fever-free and with improving symptoms for 72 hours.

3. Distancing – SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, spreads primarily through respiratory droplets emitted by infected people when they cough, sneeze, talk, or simply exhale, and the droplets are then breathed in by others. This is why social distancing is so important.

4. Masks – three major points here. First, it turns out that infected people just on the verge of having early symptoms or just beginning to have mild symptoms, are important sources of coronavirus spread.

Second, the effectiveness of masks has recently been extensively reviewed and suggests that if at least 60% of the population wore masks that were just 60% effective in blocking viral particles – which a well-fitting, two-layer cotton mask is – the epidemic could be stopped.

Third, since cloth and surgical masks do not fit tightly, you can breathe air coming in around the sides. They are designed to safeguard others, not the wearer, although laboratory research finds that surgical masks reduce inhalation of respiratory-droplet-size particles by about three-quarters. The basic logic is: I protect you; you protect me.

The linked article is a quick and entertaining read, and answers a number of obvious questions about coronavirus and COVID-19. I urge you to read it, and then: embrace the desire to keep others safe, not just ourselves.

Posted in: Community Health Policy, Your Health

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Flattening the Curve

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Understanding the Importance of Social Distancing and Isolation to Slow the Spread of the Coronavirus

Much has been said on the news and in social media about “social distancing” and “flattening the curve.” But what do those mean? And why do they matter?

Covid-19-curves-graphic-social-v3

In the Common Sense Family Doctor Blog, Kenny Lin, MD offers a concise description of what it is and why it matters.

Read Dr. Kenny Lin’s entire post here

“If the peak of the epidemic curve exceeds the surplus capacity of our health care system (and as others have pointed out, it’s not like hospitals maintain thousands of empty intensive care unit beds just waiting for an epidemic to strike), then more people will die, as health care professionals fall ill or succumb to exhaustion and there aren’t enough resources for the critically ill to go around.

That’s why it’s so important to start social distancing now, and to cancel or postpone mass gatherings such as conferences, concerts, political rallies, and athletic events.”

Here in SW Oklahoma, we anticipate adequate testing soon. Meanwhile, please take every precaution to keep your distance (for now) and avoid attracting or spreading this and all viruses.

Read Common Sense Practical Advice from a Medical Expert

Read The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and How We Can Prepare in SW Oklahoma

Posted in: Community Health Policy, News, Your Health

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Preventing COVID-19, Practical Advice

Preventing COVID-19, Practical Advice
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Common Sense Practical Advice from a Medical Expert

Dr. James Robb is a consulting pathologist at the National Cancer Institute. Among the first molecular virologists in the world to work on the coronavirus category of viruses back in the 1970s, he knows what he’s talking about more than many of those who have spoken publicly on the coronavirus. And he also knows how to translate his expertise into practical advice.

Minor edits were made to these recommendations due to new information.

Here’s Dr. Robb’s advice to his colleagues:

Dear Colleagues: These are the precautions that I take and will take:

  1. NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
  2. Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
  3. Open doors with your closed fist or hip. Do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
  4. Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
  5. Wash your hands with soap for 10-20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
  6. Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  7. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!
  8. Hand sanitizers must be alcohol-based and greater than 60% alcohol to be effective.
  9. Zinc lozenges. These lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and most other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx. Cold-Eeze lozenges is one brand available, but there are other brands available.

Note: This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs). The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

Note: This virus is spread in large droplets by coughing and sneezing. This means that the air will not infect you! BUT all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about a week on average – everything that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious. The virus is on surfaces and you will not be infected unless your unprotected face is directly coughed or sneezed upon.

I, as many others do, hope that this pandemic will be reasonably contained, BUT I personally do not think it will be. Humans have never seen this virus before and have no internal defense against it.

Tremendous worldwide efforts are being made to understand the molecular and clinical virology of this virus. Unbelievable molecular knowledge about the genomics, structure, and virulence of this virus has already been achieved. BUT, there will be NO drugs or vaccines available this year to protect us or limit the infection within us. Only symptomatic support is available.

I hope these personal thoughts will be helpful during this potentially catastrophic pandemic. You are welcome to share.

Good luck to all of us!
James Robb, MD FCAP

James Robb, MD was professor of pathology at the University of California San Diego and one of the first molecular virologists in the world to work on coronaviruses (the first strains that were identified in the 1970s). He was first to demonstrate the number of genes the virus contained. Since then, he has kept up with the coronavirus field and its multiple transfers into the human population (e.g., SARS, MERS), from different animal sources.

Posted in: Community Health Policy, News, Your Health

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and How We Can Prepare in SW Oklahoma

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) and How We Can Prepare in SW Oklahoma
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The first step is to be educated about the disease and how it spreads

It is time – now – to prepare for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Day by day, community spread is documented around the country, and although the first case in Oklahoma was travel-related, NOT attributed to “community spread,” it is more and more likely to happen. This is particularly true because of Ft. Sill and the many comings and goings from around the country and around the world.

The first confirmed Oklahoma case of COVID-19 was reported March 6 in Tulsa County.

There are steps we can take to prepare. The first step is to be educated about the disease and how it spreads.

HOW IT SPREADS

Please read this page. Coronavirus is very flu-like in that it spreads from person-to-person,

  • between people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet)
  • via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or
  • by touching a surface and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes (less likely).

Coronavirus can spread even before symptoms appear, although the data on this is still being confirmed.

Symptoms can take between 2 and 14 days to appear after being infected.

SYMPTOMS

Main symptoms appear to be Fever, Cough and Shortness of breath. Although some have presented with abdominal pain or other unexpected symptoms.

These facts make coronavirus hard to stop once community spread has started. Read this page for more information.

PREVENTION & TREATMENT

There is NO vaccine to prevent infection. Best estimates for availability of a vaccine: 2021. There is no treatment for this infection, either.

Testing: The Oklahoma State Department of Health said in a news release March 6 that the state’s lab began testing Friday and will continue to test as specimens are received from health care providers. Hopefully Comanche County will be able to test for coronavirus soon.

Please follow everyday preventive actions recommended by the CDC to prevent spread of respiratory diseases:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

As always contact your primary care provider ASAP if you feel symptoms or are concerned that you may be infected.

Posted in: Community Health Policy, News, Your Health

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