A Word about the Novel Coronavirus

A word about COVID-19 from Dr. Janette DeFelice.

It’s not about the people who get it and recover. It’s about those with compromised immune systems and the elderly. Those people will suffer and could potentially overwhelm the healthcare system so others won’t be able to get treatment for unrelated illnesses. It’s about PUBLIC health.

COVID-19 is highly transmissible. It makes you feel sick, but not too sick. So you continue to go to work and school. During that time, you are transmitting the disease to other people. Unlike a different corona virus called SARS. SARS made the victim very, very sick. Too sick to go to work. The sick person would stay home and not transmit the disease to others. Not so with COVID-19.

It’s true that a vast majority of those who come down with COVID-19 will have a mild illness and recover. But others will not recover. Because of its high transmissibility, many will get the disease (estimates range as high as 40-70% of the population). Those it hits hard (elderly, immune compromised, sometimes unpredictable) will need to be hospitalized. Hospitals can be overwhelmed with caring for these people. So much so, that if your child needs care for an unrelated illness, care or equipment may not be available.

You’ve seen the graph about flattening the curve in order to not overwhelm our healthcare system capacity. Social distancing is about flattening the curve. Again, it’s a matter of PUBLIC health.

Let me give you an analogy: Imagine COVID-19 is like one of those spiky seed pods that gets stuck on your clothing when you hike in the tall grasses. The evolutionary reason for this design is that it easily gets stuck in an animal’s fur (a deer, for example). That deer will then unwittingly transport and deposit the seed pod to another location where the seeds will grow into new plants that produce spiky seed pods that will then latch onto more deer.

Now imagine that deer has deposited that seed pod in your yard. One seed pod won’t do much harm. However, if you have multiple deer transporting those seed pods from multiple locations and depositing them in your lawn, your yard will become overwhelmed with spiky seed pod plants and you won’t be able to grow a nice garden.

In this scenario, your lawn is the hospital caring for the infirm in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak. The garden you are trying to grow represents anyone else who may need healthcare during this time.

Two main goals at this time:

  1. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations.
  2. Preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

Social distancing is about preventing a possible public health disaster. (Labeled ‘Protective Measures’ in the graph.)

I wish you all well. Wash your hands. If you feel sick, stay home.

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