COVID 19 Update 4-6-20
Hello this is Dr Jeff Mayer with an update on Coronavirus/Covid 19. Today is Monday April 6, 2020.
The need to STAY HOME has never been greater. Here in Arizona we are seeing the number of COVID cases increase by 10% every day. Currently there are 2269 cases reported as of yesterday. That number will probably be over 2500 today. We are on the steep part of the curve and will continue to see increases over the next several weeks. It is anticipated Arizona cases will peak sometime later this month. Unfortunately, when we hit the peak we will not go down right away, and the numbers will remain elevated for a while.
We hope Arizona will be more like California where the number of cases has been relatively low (only 13,500 out of a population of 39 million) rather than New York (over 100,000 cases). A large part of the reason for this difference is that California aggressively enacted social distancing early. Our leaders here in Arizona have done the same, so there is reason to be optimistic. However, it is going to get much worse before it gets better.
I want to emphasize most patients who get Covid 19 will make a full recovery. This statement includes those in the higher risk categories, specifically those over age 65. The overall death rate from Covid 19 appears to be just under 3% nationwide. In age 65 and up, this death rate approaches 10%. Unfortunately, the data is incomplete, since we have not been able to do widescale testing. While more labs are starting to release test kits, it is going to be a month or more before we can test like we need to.
Testing is now going to be done in 2 ways: First off, we will continue to test with a nasal swab to determine if someone has a current infection. This test is known as a PCR test. PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction, the methodology used to evaluate the specimen. The second type of test which will be done is an antibody test, done either as a fingerstick or a blood draw. This antibody test will tell us if someone was exposed to the virus. It will not allow us to diagnose an active infection, however. There are limitations to both testing methods. For the PCR, we are starting to realize that the virus may not stay in the nasal passages, and therefore may not be detectable there after a few days of infection. Some PCR methods now include saliva or sputum (what you cough up) specimens. Antibody tests have the risk of being positive when someone has antibodies to a different Coronavirus then COVID 19. WE ARE HOPING TO HAVE AN ANTIBODY TEST IN THE OFFICE BY APRIL 15.
I recommend wearing a face mask should you have to go out and be around others, such as at the supermarket or pharmacy. We do not have enough masks to distribute to patients, and I suggest you obtain a cloth mask, as it can be washed and reused.
I do NOT recommend gloves since I believe many people get a false sense of security when wearing them. Once you touch something in a store your hands are contaminated and should be washed before touching a personal item such as your cell phone or purse or even your body. When people wear gloves, they seem to forget this fact. The virus does not appear to be transmitted through the skin, so a 20 second hand wash should eliminate it.
There remains no known treatment for Covid 19. So, the best way to treat yourself is to try to avoid getting it, and the best way to do that is to not be around other people. I realize with the upcoming holidays people may want to spend them with family. We recommend not doing this.
Should you develop respiratory symptoms please do not just go the ER or come to our office. During business hours, the office remains open, and you should call there first. For more urgent attention, or after hours, call my cell phone at 520-403-8529. Naturally, if you have shortness of breath, or other severe symptoms such as lightheadedness, call 911 immediately. We continue to only see urgent appointments in the office to keep people at home.
Thank you and take care.