Weekly update COVID 19 April 24, 2020

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Not much is changed from last week. In Arizona we continue to see approximately 300 new cases a day, which is okay news. If the disease was rapidly progressing we would expect to see a much higher rate of new infections each day. One popular model predicts we are peaking this week here in Tucson. Currently the stay-at-home order is set to expire next Thursday, April 30, and Governor Ducey will announce next week what will be done. For those who may be interested, I have posted a link to an article on 5 different projection models being used nationally on the website.

Some data is starting to emerge on different therapies being tried for Covid19. Hydroxychloroquine either alone, or in combination with Azithromycin, has been disappointing and even potentially dangerous. The FDA today issued a report stating the combo may affect the electrical system of the heart, putting a person at risk for sudden death. In addition, a VA study publicized earlier this week showed no improvement in survival with the combo, and a higher death rate in those individuals who only got hydroxychloroquine alone.

Despite high hopes, Remdesivir, a drug developed to treat Ebola virus, has so far not shown to be beneficial either. Other medications are being looked at in multiple trials going on throughout the world. Hopefully one of these trials will discover a treatment.

The greatest challenge is treating those individuals who end up on ventilators. Often there is a combination of two processes going on: the viral infection itself, and their own immune
system’s over reaction to it. This “Cytokine storm” as it is called, leads to a massive inflammatory process in the body, which can potentially cause more damage in certain ways then the infection itself. This reaction can happen with other infections and conditions, and it has been heavily researched for the past 25 years. Unfortunately, we still have few improvements in therapy.

One distressing outcome of this Coronavirus pandemic is the number of scams and false information that have popped up over the last several weeks. Medicare patients specifically have been targets of scams through the years, and this week a patient told me she was called and offered a “free” Medicare Kit (there is no such thing). She did not give the caller any information. I want to emphasize that you should NEVER give your Medicare or Social Security number to someone who calls you unexpectedly on the phone. When we refer someone to a specialist, or order something for them such as a wheelchair, we will forward that information to the office we are utilizing.

Likewise, there are no therapies or preventative treatments available (apart from social distancing and wearing a mask) for Covid19, so please do not purchase anything. Also, if someone calls offering to sell you a mask or similar protective equipment, it is almost certainly fraudulent.

Finally, I am anticipating we will resume seeing patients in the office after May 10. Most likely, we will only have one patient come in each hour so we may preserve social distancing. Please everyone stay safe and call me if you have any questions.