To our patients:
We are writing to communicate with you about the rapidly developing situation surrounding the coronavirus. We will update you as the situation evolves, but wanted to make sure that you were as informed as possible about how we will approach evaluation and treatment. We rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for current and regularly updated information.
To be clear, it is the opinion of our physicians that it is only a matter of when, not if, COVID-19 will affect Indiana residents. How severe the illness can be and what an individual’s susceptibility to infection is remain unclear.
We will address common questions below. Of course, if you have further questions of us, please feel free to reach out to any of us!
-Dr. Priddy, Dr. Veatch, Dr. Szewczyk, Dr. Schmidt, Dr. Brian Morris, & Dr. Amanda Morris
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How serious is this virus? In short, we do not know. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk is considered low. However, related viruses have been known to cause severe illness. COVID-19 appears to have a 3% mortality rate in patients diagnosed with the virus. The question remains how many patients have the virus, don’t have significant symptoms, and are never diagnosed. As this number becomes known, it’s certainly possible that the estimate of the overall lethality of the virus will fall.
Who is at greatest risk? Patients at the greatest risk are the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with multiple serious medical issues or lung issues, and pregnant women.
Should I cancel my upcoming travel? The CDC website maintains the most current recommendations for canceling or postponing travel. Currently the CDC advises against non-essential travel to China or South Korea. Patients with chronic medical conditions are advised against traveling to Italy and Iran. Please reference this link for a continuously updated assessment of travel risk: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
How can I protect myself against COVID-19? The virus spreads from person-to-person. Currently, it is unclear how easily or sustainably COVID-19 is spreading between people. General precautions seem to be the most effective way to prevent transmission. The current thinking is that it’s possible for COVID-19 to survive on a hard surface for many days, so avoidance, hand washing, and sterilization are key. General precautions include:
- Avoid close contact with sick people
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid touching your face or eyes
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose/coughing/sneezing)
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Clean possibly contaminated surfaces with cleansing spray or wipes
- Maintain current immunization against other communicable disease, including influenza
Do I need to wear a mask? The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves. However, facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. A mask can prevent transmission by limiting the amount of aerosolized viral particles that end up in the air after a cough or sneeze. In addition, people who are taking care of someone in close settings (home or health care facility) should wear facemasks.
In the event of a pandemic, you may see our physicians wearing a special type of N-95 mask with protective eyewear when interacting with patients. These masks are specially fitted, and only offer protection against inhaled particles and not viral particles that are left on surfaces.
Unfortunately, we do not have a supply of masks, nor are we able to obtain them due to disruption of the supply chain in China secondary to COVID-19.
What should I do if I suspect I have COVID-19? Call us first. We will discuss your symptoms and decide whether you should come to the office for evaluation. The symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. We may establish a special room(s) that can be cleaned thoroughly between visits for evaluation of patients possibly infected with COVID-19. At this time, specific real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) assay testing for detection of COVID-19 is only performed by the CDC. General laboratory and imaging techniques may be useful in identifying the clinical illness is the absence of COVID-19 specific testing. In the meantime, isolation from friends and family will help prevent the spread of the illness.
When will a vaccine be available? There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. Vaccines are in the early stages of development, but it is unclear when a viable vaccine will be available.
Here are links to the most current information from the CDC.
• General Information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
• Healthcare Professionals: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/index.html
• Pregnant women and children: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/pregnant-women.html
• Travelers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html