“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe, and that means everybody doing the six feet distancing, washing your hands.”
This message is from US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, the WH Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Brix and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Let’s review some relevant information:
- The primary mode of transmission remains respiratory (you inhale the virus).
- The next mode of transmission is autoinoculation (you infect yourself) – you unwittingly contact the virus with your hands and then touch your eye, nose or mouth.
- COVID-19 remains virulent (infectious) on surfaces for upwards of 2-3 days.
- COVID-19 is asymptomatically spread. You may have COVID-19, not realize you have it and then unwittingly spreading it to others.
- Social distancing addresses the respiratory transmission – but, NOT the secondary mode of transmission – autoinoculation.
- There are no medications that treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
- There is no vaccine for COVID-19 to prevent its spread at this time.
Here are my recommendations:
- We are now under a Shelter in Place order from the Gov – safest action and best method to limit further spread (and best method to prevent yourself from contracting COVID-19). Walks are fine; working in your yard is fine.
- My next recommendations will contradict my WHO/CDC Colleagues; however, I will explain my rationale. If you must go out to a public location (shopping, etc.):
- Wear disposable gloves: No special type needed – just gloves that you can then throw away when you return home. THIS will limit autoinoculation. You are much less likely to touch your face when wearing disposable gloves.
- As soon as you arrive home, clean the doorknob and wash your hands.
- Routinely clean high touch areas in your home (light switches, toilet handles and seats, computer keyboards, door handles, faucets, dishwasher controls, laundry machine controls.
- Change clothes after arriving home and then wash the clothes you wore while out (any detergent is fine).
- Wear a mask: A controversial recommendation I know; however, this is to prevent asymptomatic spread of the virus. No special mask is needed. Again, there are very few mask types that will prevent you from contracting COVID-19, but, any standard mask will limit the respiratory spread of the virus (look back at 1918 as the example – we should be following that guidance now).
- Testing for effective treatment is ongoing (medications).
- The development of a vaccine is ongoing.
- The development of rapid testing is ongoing.
- Our systems are based on, a just in time supply chain methodology, meaning, we produce what we need and then deliver those goods to the consumer. This is a very effective system, as we have seen for decades. Hoarding causes this system to breakdown, creates shortages, and drives unfounded panic which then stimulates further spontaneous buying. No need to change your pre-pandemic grocery shopping habits – this will allow our supply chains to work as designed (keep in mind, producers and suppliers too are trying to minimize their worker’s exposures and are likely down to minimal staffing).
- I would highly recommend utilizing the grocery store delivery option
A tragic and completely preventable outcome in a time of crisis is the breakdown of civility. This crisis is new to us all. We are all learning as we go. The bottom line is we are all the same submarine. Common courtesy and decency are also infectious.
A final point that is the simplest truth out there: The moment we stop infecting one another, COVID-19 goes away within a month.
Thanks, Everyone – hang in there!
Douglas W. Little, MD, practices medicine in Tucson, AZ 85718. For more information see www.DougLittleMD.com. Dr. Little holds certifications from the American Board of Family Medicine and from the FAA as an Aeromedical Examiner (AME). He has conducted FAA flight physicals since 2007 as a Certified Aeromedical Examiner for all classes of pilots. Dr. Little now embarks into his civilian medical practice in Tucson AZ, where he lives with his wife and four children.