Covid 19 update Oct 23, 2020

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Unfortunately, the number of new Covid 19 cases nationwide is increasing dramatically. While not as severe yet, Arizona is also worsening. The seven-day average of new cases per day has risen from 480 at the beginning of October to 879 yesterday. Likewise, the number of patients in the intensive care unit from Covid 19 has gone up from 125 on Oct 1 to 172 yesterday. However, this is still well below the peak of 970 ICU patients on July 13, and thankfully, despite more cases, the seven-day death average has declined from 16 a day on Oct 1, to 10 a day now.

There is a great fear we are witnessing the beginning of a third surge of Covid 19. Many hospitals are at or near full capacity in the Midwest and parts of the West. Tent hospitals have been opened in Milwaukee county (in Wisconsin) and in Utah amongst other places.

In addition, since this outbreak is now more widespread there are not as many nurses and doctors available to travel to the areas most affected, unlike earlier in the year in New York City. One bright spot is we have more experience and better knowledge of how to treat Covid 19 patients, which is leading to fewer deaths.

Pandemic fatigue in the population is most likely contributing to some of this outbreak. People believe they are safe and stop wearing masks. This unfortunately is especially true with small groups of family members or friends who think they are disease free yet aren’t. Larger gatherings of people are also a great risk for spreading the virus.

In person school, whether at the college or high school level also contributes significantly to new cases in some parts of the country. These cases are often arising from students not wearing masks or practicing social distancing when they are away from school and then spreading the virus on campus.

While many make a complete recovery from Covid 19 in 2 weeks, a significant percentage have persistent issues for weeks to months. While good data is not yet available, smaller studies have shown 20% or more will experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, “foggy brain”, shortness of breath and reduced exercise tolerance amongst other symptoms. Some may also have gastrointestinal or skin issues. More seriously, a few may develop inflammation of the heart known as myocarditis which can lead to heart failure. Long Covid Syndrome is the term used to describe this post active infection state, although it is theorized there may be at least four different syndromes rather than one. This syndrome can occur at any age. An ongoing challenge is recognizing and supporting these individuals.

I will continue to update you next week. Please be cautious and have a good week.