My thoughts on this new infection: COVID-19

As an infectious disease physician, I thought I should share with you my recommendations for how I believe you should think about this current coronavirus, COVOID-19, infection. The problem is that we don’t have a vaccine or medication treatment with this virus as we do influenza, and it will take months for testing of any possible medications or vaccines. 

Those at risk for a severe lung infection and death are those chronic medical conditions like poor heart function, chronic lung disease like COPD, liver disease, kidney function problems, diabetes, older age with the risk increasing over age 60 proportional to increasing age. These groups have immune function issues or little reserve to survive being on ventilator and/ or unstable circulation.

My suggestions if you fall into one of these groups or support someone who does:

Follow where the virus has more than a few cases with known contacts. Avoid people returning from areas of the infection outbreak. It is not unreasonable to wear a mask if you fall into one of these groups if you have to travel or go into a group situation where you can’t ask if anyone was near an area of epidemic or near a person recently near an area with lots of infections with this virus.

Everyone should wash their hands well or use hand sanitizer after touching public areas or using a restroom. Cover your mouth and nose if you cough or sneeze, don’t touch your eyes, nasal passages or mouth with your hands. Use the sanitizer wipes in the grocery store for carts and on public shared surfaces like phones, gym equipment, audio-video controls and airline tray tables and armrests. Stay away from public places if sick. 

If you feel awful (cannot carry out a normal day with Tylenol) with any cold or cough, go to a facility or doctor that can exclude influenza on-site or that day at a lab.  Go to the ER if you have any issues with breathing, chest pressure, a cough that cannot be suppressed, high fever, difficulty drinking fluids and staying hydrated. 

Hope this practical advice from an expert helps.