Your Essential Guide to COVID-19
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has upended our day-to-day lives and saturated the news and social media feeds. With so much information (and non-information) coming at us, it's hard to filter through to what is actually important. Our team is going through and doing the work for you. Keep checking back for updates!
April 16, 2020 Status Report
According to the CDC, there have been 632,548 cases and 31,071 deaths in the US.
A study conducted of COVID-19 patients in an academic hospital in New York City suggested that obesity increases the need for hospitalization and critical care. The study surveyed 3,615 patients and found that 21% (775) had a body mass index (BMI) 30-34 and 16% (595) had a BMI above 35. An individual is considered obese with a BMI greater than or equal to 30. The researchers concluded that "though patients aged <60 years are generally considered a lower risk group of Covid-19 disease severity, based on data from our institution, obesity appears to be a previously unrecognized risk factor for hospital admission and need for critical care." Given that nearly 40% of adults in the United States are obese, this study could have serious implications.
The question on everyone's mind is when will a COVID-19 vaccine be ready for distribution? At the beginning of April, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that it would take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to develop, test, and then be approved for public distribution. On April 4, WHO reported that 60 candidate vaccines are currently in development worldwide and two have entered the first phase of clinical evaluation.
Top 3 things to do...
STAY INSIDE - maintain social distancing (or physical distancing) by staying at home as much as possible. Only go out for essentials (groceries and toiletries). Feel free to go to parks/trails for hikes, but maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. If you do go to the store, only send one person, go with a list, and be mindful of those around you.
WASH YOUR HANDS - Regularly wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 65% alcohol content. Wash your hands after every outing.
CLEAN SURFACES - Regularly wipe down doorknobs, phones, countertops, light switches, and other frequently used items.
Is there a tea to cure COVID-19?
There has been a viral post making its way around social media claiming that drinking tea will cure COVID-19 (see below). There is no evidence suggesting that tea could help you fend off the coronavirus.
"There is also no evidence that Dr Li Wenliang was researching the effect of methylxanthines, and the fact that he was an eye specialist and not a virus specialist makes that particular claim unlikely."
It is correct that methylxanthines are found in tea and other food and drink, such as chocolate and coffee. Theophylline and dyphylline can also be used to treat respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis, but require much larger quantities than is found in tea. As of today, the World Health Organization says that there is no medicine that can prevent or treat COVID-19.
Should I wear a mask or respirator? Which one?
Good news! If you're able to shelter at home, you don't need a mask at all! Here are the different options that you will hear about, and when they are appropriate...
1. Surgical face mask
Face masks are effective as preventing the spread of contagions FROM you, but they are not very effective at blocking contagions in the air. What does that mean? If you are symptomatic, then wearing a mask will help decrease the spread to others (but self-quarantine is the BEST way to prevent spread).
UPDATE 3/31/20: If you are not symptomatic, you may consider wearing a mask in public. The CDC is re-evaluating its previous stance on reserving masks for the sick and those caring for the sick because of the high rate of asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers. We again encourage you to reserve masks for healthcare workers, but wearing a scarf or cloth mask will still help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets while speaking.
2. N-95 respirators
Respirators will protect you from inhaling the virus by filtering the air before it is inhaled. These masks come in sizes and must be fit for each individual to ensure efficacy. Right now, all of these respirators should be reserved for our healthcare providers on the front lines. If you have any N-95 respirators, please consider donating them to your local hospital, doctor's office, or pharmacy.