Hello All,First, I am not an epidemiologist (expert in the field of public health and disease spread). I am a pediatric cardiologist who listens to and reads many epidemiologists and likes to look at data. I am also not typically an alarmist… I usually believe that things will work themselves out fine. But, I have heard some remarks around KSAC that they aren’t worried about Corona virus and they think it’s all hype. Three weeks ago, I might have agreed with you… but that has completely changed as we have gotten more data from the rest of the world (Italy, China…). Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but the true experts in this field feel this is going to be bad and has the potential to overwhelm the healthcare system to the point that there will be no beds and equipment for the very sick people. Does this mean we should panic… absolutely not. We must prepare, not panic. Panic is the opposite of preparation. Preparation will not stop the viral spread, but can slow it. The countries that have had the greatest success slowing the virus have instituted strong measures (that might seem a little crazy) like canceling school and big events, excellent hand hygiene, and very restricted travel. Those measures have kept things manageable. Our government has not chosen to take many of these measures. In China and Italy, they haven’t done those things and it has gotten really bad.
What can we do…
- We have all heard that we need to wash our hands and not touch our face, but we need to do it more (hand sanitizer is fine if you can get it).
- Wipe down equipment at the gym (even more than TJ usually makes us).
- Consider staying home from the concert or other event.
- Consider canceling your trip… even if it’s not to a highly infected area.
- THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE - If you are sick (even just a little bit), DO NOT GO TO WORK, THE GYM, A RESTAURANT or anywhere else. Stay at home unless you start to become short of breath or very ill and then call the ER and let them know you are coming and seek medical attention. Do not go to your doctors to get tested – they will likely not be able to test you and who knows how many elderly people you will infect in the waiting room.
A lot of this probably seems overblown considering our 1 case in Johnson county, but please consider that it is almost impossible to get tested here currently so we are dramatically underestimating the number of Corona virus cases. There are hundreds or more of people infected with Corona virus in our area and that number will grow considerably in the coming weeks (especially if we start testing for it). Corona symptoms start slower than the flu and you may not feel the more significant symptoms until 5 or 6 days into the illness. If you are over 60 (or certainly over 70), seek medical attention sooner rather than later. This virus is particularly nasty to those over 70 or those with heart/lung disease.
I’m usually not that excited to answer questions that aren’t related to cardiology (mostly because I don’t know enough to help you), but I am happy to talk about this. I have tried hard to educate myself using only real data and true expert opinion. In 4 weeks, if it isn’t that bad, I will apologize to everyone for over-reacting, but I have difficulty finding many true experts who are currently thinking that we are overreacting. Preparation… not panic. If I find that you have all the toilet paper at your house, I am going to tweet out your address.Dr. Dan