Dr. David Price, pulmonologist of Weill Cornell Medical Center, shares information about empowering and protecting families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rationale: Dr. Price hopes to empower people to learn about the disease so that they can better protect themselves and others. Knowledge, he states, is a helpful tool that will allow people to get through the crisis.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a virus in the family of the common cold, but one that human’s have never seen or experienced before. The virus is making such an impact because no one, other than those that have already contracted the virus, has developed immunity to the disease.
What does the disease look like?
Most people with the virus develop a fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. The virus travels throughout the entire body, but mostly affects the lungs. About 80% of people have relatively mild symptoms: an overall sense of just not feeling good, maybe a mild cough and a headache. The symptoms of the virus typically last between 5 and 14 days.
How do you get COVID-19?
The virus is transmitted by having sustained contact (15-30 minutes) with someone who has the disease (already has a fever or general aches) or who is about to develop symptoms of the disease (has been exposed to someone else with the disease). It transmits almost exclusively from hand-to-face (eyes, nose, mouth) contact.
*This knowledge can help you protect yourself to ensure you will not get the virus!*
Rules to follow to prevent contracting the virus:
- Always know where your hands are- Wash your hands after you touch anything.
- Do not touch your face -Try to interrupt hand-to-face processes. You can start wearing a mask, not as a protective measure, but as a conscious reminder not to touch your face. You do not need a medical grade mask, a homemade face covering would suffice for the day-to-day.
-Information on how to fashion a homemade mask can be found by clicking here.
- Distance yourself from others – Do not come within 3-6 feet of another person.
- Do not be afraid of the outside world – Learn about the disease and the way you can protect yourself. Doing so will allow you to still have contact with the outside world and ultimately sustain the system that we still have to live in.
What about socializing?
You have to shrink your social circle. Find your isolation group and set boundaries (ie. no one in the group interacts with anyone other than who is in the group). The fact is, you don’t know who will or won’t have the disease 2 days from when you give that high five.
How do I protect my family?
Follow the above rules, first and foremost. The majority of spread throughout the world has been within families, but this does not mean that every member of the family has to get the virus. If someone develops a virus, they should be isolated from the family. This will look like staying in a separate bedroom (if able), using their own bathroom (if able), and using a mask or protective face covering if they have to be around others. Limiting sustained contact (15-30 minutes) is imperative. Once symptoms subside and the fever is gone, that individual can start interacting more but must be vigilant about taking precautions, washing hands, etc.
What if I live with a high-risk person?
Those most vulnerable to the disease effects are the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with pre-existing health conditions. It might be that that person needs to stay elsewhere or be completely isolated from the family if one individual becomes ill. Otherwise, taking care of your self is the best way to protect that person.
If I suspect I have the disease, should I go to the hospital?
You should only go to the hospital if you are feeling short of breath. There is no need to go if you have a fever without shortness of breath. If you suspect you have the virus and you are not experiencing shortness of breath, stay home and try to stay isolated from anyone you share a household with. Many doctors are available for Telehealth appointments and you can utilize this resource if you are worried about symptoms.
When should I get tested?
If you are following all guidelines (washing hands, social distancing, taking precautions), there is not much reason to get tested other than for peace of mind. If you live in a rural area where testing is rarer, take precautions in your home rather than utilizing resources. Your behavior should not change based on a positive or negative test result.
How long will this last? What about a second wave?
Social distancing precautions could last several months to a year. The “second wave” of illnesses that are arising elsewhere are occurring because the curve was mostly flattened and then people slacked off on social distancing practices. This will probably happen here, too, but won’t have such a large impact if we all follow the rules. Now that COVID-19 is a human transmittable virus, it will come back year after year. Once the antibodies exist within our bodies, though, the effects will be no more than a mild cold.
Summary: Learn about the virus and how it is spread. Learn ways to protect yourself and your family and commit to those practices for the foreseeable future. Wash your hands after you touch anything and don’t touch your face. Do not be afraid! The virus is not a death sentence, nor is it guaranteed. By following the rules you can protect those around you and help to flatten the curve.