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COVID-19 Update November 21, 2020: Living Through the Danger to Safety

By Dr. Arthur Lavin

Glossary

  • Virus– a type of germ that consists solely of a bit of genetic material (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a protein coat.  The coat gets the genes into the target cell where the genes force the cell to make zillions of new viruses, and on it goes.
  • Coronavirus– a species name of a number of different viruses.  Called corona because its protein coat is studded with spike shapes that form a crown, halo, or corona of spikes
  • SARS-CoV-2– the specific name of the new coronavirus
  • COVID-19-the name of the illness that the new coronavirus is causing
  • Endemic– an illness always present in a region.  One could say strep throat is endemic in the US
  • Epidemic– a sudden burst of an illness that comes and goes over a limited time
  • Pandemic– an epidemic that bursts across the world not just one region
  • Spreadability– how contagious is the disease, how many people will end up infected
  • Symptoms- the experience of being ill, for example- fever, cough, headaches, loss of smell etc.
    • Asymptomatic– literally means “without symptoms”.  For COVID-19 it refers a person infected with the virus but has no and will have not symptoms
    • Presymptomatic– This is a person who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, and will feel sick, but hasn’t yet
  • Severity– what harm does the disease cause, in terms of  how sick you get and how many it will kill
  • Mask- a mask is a loose-fitting cloth or textile that covers the mouth and nose loosely.  A surgical mask is a mask used in surgery
  • Respirator-  for the purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic and other respiratory illnesses, a respirator is a mask that fits very snugly or tightly to the user’s face.  An N95 mask is a respirator.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)- PPE are any item that covers any part of the body with the design and intent of keeping viruses in the environment from infecting the wearer of the PPE. PPE’s include all masks (which includes respirators), face shields, eye shields, gloves, gowns.
  • Ventilator- a ventilator is a machine that can force a person unable to breathe to inhale and exhale and control both effectively.  They are sometimes called respirators, but during this pandemic the word respirator is now reserved for reference to a tightly fit mask.
  • Live Virus Swab– this is the swab which attempts to swipe live virus from one’s nose or throat to see if you are currently infected.
  • Antibody Test- (aka serology test) this is the blood test which looks for antibody to the SARS-CoV-2 virus to see if you have been infected in the past.

 

The Danger

Very sadly, right now we are all being subjected to the worst of the pandemic.  The result?  The danger to everyone, each of us, those we love, rises every day.

This despite the fact that at exactly the same time, a solution may be available, but not for some very dangerous months.

Unless our nation changes its leadership and its behaviors, and soon, we will very likely be tragically reporting in these updates more and more bad news until enough people are immunized.

So throughout the rest of November, and all of December, and likely much of the first months of the new year we need to be at our most careful, our most thoughtful.  And we know for sure that following every holiday it all gets worse, so however bad it is now, it is almost certain to worsen, and possibly sharply, after Thanksgiving next week.

The proof of this tragedy is seen in today’s numbers, they cannot be read thoughtfully without being terribly disappointed, frightened.

On November 20 the nation hit a deadly high of 200,000 new cases in ONE day.

On November 20, our state of Ohio hit a deadly high of 8,808 new cases in ONE day.

And since we posted that one quarter of a million of our fellow Americans have been killed by this virus, another 10,000 of us have died.  

Our fellow Americans are now dying at a rate of 2,000 deaths a day, and that most dire number is guaranteed to go up given the huge numbers of new cases and record hospitalizations.

To put it clearly, we are all living in a nation where this deadly virus is raging wildly, out of control across the land, across our state, across our county.  Here and now.

Please, please all, until a new plan of approach is in place, until you are immunized, until we see these numbers really drop- STAY SAFE.

Stay away from other people.

If you are with people outside your home, wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet away, don’t gather with many people, outdoors is 20x safer than indoors.

Do not travel.  Do not gather.  Do not go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving.

The Safety

On the good news side, the evidence continues to mount that we will have a COVID-19 vaccine, and that it will be safe, and will work so well, that all the dangers we noted above could realistically end by the middle of 2021, maybe even by May.

This is not for sure quite yet, but it looks very, very likely.  Imagine, a world without COVID-19 threatening and a return to normal life.

That will depend on enough people being immunized, on the vaccines really working at the promised high levels and safely.

So it becomes ever more URGENT, that we all take the extra effort from now until Spring to STAY SAFE during what is RIGHT NOW, a very very dangerous time.

A Story

This story was reported in Minneapolis.  The mother of a 17 year old athlete had the tragic experience of seeing her daughter infected through high school sports.  She was the unusual adolescent whose COVID-19 was severe. In fact, almost deadly.  She got sicker and sicker, eventually her organs began failing and she ended up facing heart and kidney failure.  Somehow, at the very edge of passing, she recovered and now lives.  But her heart remains enlarged and the outlook for future organ function is uncertain.

In a more normal time in our history, this story would end with the parents expressing the terrible sense of danger avoided and danger that now hovers.   There would be a plea to others, stay safe, don’t gather, avoid this terrible ordeal.

But these are not normal times, and so the story ended this way.  The parent spoke about how the disease was an awful experience, but participating in sports is so important that she wants everyone to know it was worth it.

Of course, we are sharing this story to make as clear as possible it is not.  It simply is not worth playing that game of football or hockey or soccer.  Or that one visit to a friend.  Or the fun trip over vacation.  Or a small gathering for Thanksgiving.

It is not worth it because we all live in a nation where this virus is now spreading so wildly, that it is everywhere.  Even if we are careful, we can catch it.  Certainly, if we gather, we are taking a big risk.

BOTTOM LINES

  1. COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States causing illness and much death in its path.  The levels continue to rise, beyond levels we ever imagined or feared.
  2. Now that the virus is spreading so wildly, gathering is simply not safe.
  3. Please do not gather.
  4. Please wear a mask.
  5. Please if you are with someone, stay at least 6 feet away with a mask on.
  6. Please do not travel.
  7. Please do not get together with other households for Thanksgiving
  8. Please do what you can to protect not just yourself, but all you love and care for.
  9. We need to make it through a few months, a vaccine is likely to save us all, but until it arrives, we need to be safe .

My Takeaway- In One Sentence:

We are right now living through the most dangerous phase of the Pandemic- now through the vaccine- and all we can do to avoid tragedy is the simple steps, done well, done always until we are immunized.

To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin

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