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Coronavirus Video Transcript

Hi, My name is Lindsay Carter, I’m Medical Director for Devoted Health Plan and I’m also a practicing primary care doctor. We’re here today to talk about COVID-19 — a little bit about the background of what it is, the disease it causes, as well as how you can prevent spread, and what you can do to prepare.  

COVID-19 is the name for a respiratory illness that was newly recognized caused by a coronavirus that we first recognized in December of 2019. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that actually cause the common cold, so this is just a new version of that virus that we are just recognizing now. The range of respiratory illnesses that we are seeing with COVID-19 range from very mild respiratory symptoms like you would have with the common cold, to more severe respiratory illness like pneumonia, to even more critical respiratory illnesses in rare cases. And those people who are most prone to getting the really severe cases are older and those who have underlying, chronic medical conditions — especially chronic lung diseases. For the majority of patients, the vast majority of patients, about 80% or so, we think are getting very mild respiratory illness not unlike a bad cold or maybe a mild seasonal flu. 

COVID-19 spreads through droplets in the air. The droplets can also — the virus rather — can also live on the surface, so a countertop, a doorknob, a handle, etc., for a period of time. So if someone who is sick spreads it onto a countertop, and then you go and touch the countertop, and then go touch your face — or something like that — you can also get it that way. In order to prevent spread we recommend you avoid touching your face, your nose, and your eyes. 

So now that we know what COVID-19 is, let’s talk about some general prevention tips and ways that you can stay healthy. And these are good things to know generally speaking, especially in the annual cold and flu season. It’s the same things you would do for that. 

Number 1, really good hand hygiene is first and foremost. So, washing your hands frequently, we use warm water and soap and wash for at least 20 seconds. If washing your hands is not available, then an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is recommended. You want it to be at least 60% alcohol, and that should be on the label. You want to make sure that it’s a liberal amount that you’re putting on your hands and then let it air dry. 

Avoid being around sick people if you can, and if you’re sick, avoid being around people — so stay at home, don’t go to work, don’t go to school, etc. If you’re sick, be sure to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.

A lot of people are asking about face masks and whether or not they can be used to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, we don’t think that they’re actually useful in preventing the spread of the disease, and it’s because they don’t fit very firmly and snugly to the face, so the respiratory droplets are still inhaled and are not prevented through the mask. 

So how might we prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community? We should think about a few things such as school closures, cancellations of big public events, and think about how those sorts of things might affect you, and plan accordingly. You also might want to think about if for some reason you can't make it out for a few days, either because you are sick or because there is widespread disease activity and you don’t want to be out. Think about having a few extra things around your house that you might need. So that might mean picking up a few extra things at the grocery store. I wouldn’t go and stockpile a whole lot, but it might be nice to have a few extra things just in case you can’t make it out for a few days. 

One of the questions we get a lot is when to seek care. I think that if you have symptoms just of a cold, then I would take precautions, stay home from work, try not to get other people sick, practice good hand hygiene, etc. But if it’s a cold that you wouldn’t normally call your doctor for, then don’t feel that you need to call your doctor for that. If you feel like you have the flu — you have chills, body aches, a fever, a cough — anything like that. That probably would be a reason that you would have either called your doctor or gone to an urgent care center. In those cases, I would call your doctor. It’s useful for a few reasons. One, is so that, in case you feel sicker, they're aware of what’s going on for you. It’s also useful for tracking purposes right now early on in the epidemic experience. But the important thing is that you should always call your doctor before you go into the doctor or have your appointment because what we’re trying to do is not expose people unnecessarily. 

Other questions we get are around “why all the attention around COVID-19, isn’t the flu just as bad?” And I think the answer is that there are just a lot of unknowns still about it. It’s a new virus that was just recently discovered. It’s part of a family of viruses that we know a lot about that cause the common cold, but this is a new version of the virus. And we just don’t know a lot yet about how it spreads or how severe the disease is. But I think what makes people nervous, and what’s getting a lot of attention, is that we’re just not sure about that yet.

As always, if you’re having symptoms — more severe symptoms — like shortness of breath, or severe cough or a high fever, and you feel it’s an emergency then, of course, always go to the emergency room. Be sure you always let people know what your symptoms are and that you’re concerned about COVID-19 so that they can protect themselves accordingly. 

We hope this video was helpful for you, and gave you some good tips in terms of how to stay healthy, how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and if you have any questions, we’re always available to talk.