How you can Prepare
As of now, there is no definitive treatment for the infection, other than supportive measures to help the person while their body deals with the infection. There are some medications under investigation for this, but none of the medications we typically prescribe have been found to be effective in treating the infection. Specifically, antibiotics and antiviral medications (like Tamiflu) have not been helpful in treating this. Vaccines are being developed, but even at the rapid pace these are being done, the most optimistic time frame for a vaccine is 12 to 18 months from now.
The main effort presently is focused on slowing the spread of the virus by isolating infected individuals and quarantining communities when appropriate. The hope is that this will slow the spread while treatments, public health measures, and vaccines are developed. The more time we have, the more prepared we will be to handle the problem.
How you can Prepare
The first and most important thing is to not panic. The vast majority of our patients are not at risk of getting serious infection, even in the midst of an epidemic. There is no reason to avoid school, work, or travel to places not effected by the virus (go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html to find specific travel restrictions/recommendations). Since we don’t know how fast this disease will spread, there is not yet cause to cancel plans for travel or other gatherings.
But we must be realistic: people will panic still, and that may itself cause significant problems. Stocking up on non-perishable food in case of a quarantine (which would last 2 weeks) is reasonable to do in the upcoming weeks/months. Furthermore, there are some practical things you should consider:
* If you have vulnerable family members, come up with a plan to care for them, and have alternate plans should the primary caretaker get sick.
* If you are a single parent, figure out ways to cope with illness to you or to one of your children.
* Workplaces should consider how to handle employee absences.
It should be noted that it is not advantageous for healthy people to wear masks, unless they are working directly with infected or high-risk individuals. Infected people may decrease the spread of respiratory droplets by wearing a mask. Overall, good hand-washing and common sense measures to decrease viral spread are always more effective than extreme measures. Is it reasonable to cut back on shaking people’s hands? Maybe, but mainly to just build good habits in case there is a local epidemic.
What our office is Planning
We have considered what measures we will take if/when the epidemic hits our area. Until that happens, nothing (aside from publishing educational material like this) will be different. If we are in a local epidemic, we will do the following:
* Cancel non-essential visits to leave room for the influx of coronavirus related care.
* Convert essential care visits to video or phone visits whenever possible.
* Be available to reach out to infected individuals as best we can.
* Continue to educate you and coordinate with other providers in our area.
This is a serious situation, but it is not the apocalypse. Most of us have not gone through a pandemic before, so this will create a lot of uncertainty and even panic in our communities. It is vital that we all think ahead, but not panic about what could happen. Reach out to your neighbors, talk to your coworkers, and make plans with your family on what you can do to prepare in a way that is thoughtful and meaningful. Avoid spreading information that is not from very reliable sources, and don’t use this crisis to point fingers or increase political divisiveness. This is a time where unity needs to be of highest priority.
The best case is that this is an over-reaction and the pandemic will fizzle out. The worst case is that we will be caught unprepared, and that lack of preparation will cause harm to those who need help.Поділитися цим: