Did you hear the one about 38 percent of Americans won’t drink Corona beer because of the coronavirus? Two misnomers there: Firstly, the coronavirus has nothing to do with Corona beer. Drink on. Secondly, that was a misleading stat picked up by almost every major news outlet in America because some journalists don’t do research anymore. As The Atlantic points out, “the original press release from 5WPR notes that in a survey of 737 beer-drinking Americans, 38 percent said they ‘would not buy Corona under any circumstances now.'”
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That has nothing to do with the coronavirus. People just might not like the beer. This is the exact misinformation we’re trying to avoid here. So we spoke with several doctors and are the coronavirus facts they gave us in private.
Doctors are very worried COVID-19 and not only as a public health crisis. Like you should be, they are concerned for their safety. Here’s why and what you can plan for:
1. It’s Deadly
Want some coronavirus facts? How about this? COVID-19 currently has an average lethality rate from 1 to 2 percent. Children have the highest survival rate, while 10 percent of infected people over 80 years old would be expected to die. By comparison, SARS and MERS were much deadlier with kill rates about three times higher. However, the SARS and MERS viruses weren’t particularly contagious while COVID-19 is as easy to catch as ordinary flu, but more than 20 times as deadly. The virus can spread through the air in the tiny invisible droplets of moisture in the outward breathing of the infected and can survive for hours on surfaces. If COVID-19 got into major urban areas, tens of millions could be infected. If 30 million people were infected, at a 1 percent lethality rate, 300,000 would be expected to die.
2. It Could Overwhelm Our Healthcare System
As if that wasn’t bad enough, COVID-19 is a heavy hitter and 15 percent of infected patients will require hospitalization and ICU treatment to recover. Without it, they are likely to die too. With 30 million people infected, 4.5 million will need ICU care. If the number of seriously ill patients exceeds ICU beds, COVID-19’s lethality rate is going to go up.
3. Tailor Made For a Pandemic
The thing that worries doctors most about COVID-19 is they don’t know who has it and they can’t see it coming. Unlike previous deadly viral outbreaks, COVID-19 is contagious while asymptomatic. An infected person without symptoms goes about their normal activities unknowingly spreading the virus to others for days before they realize they are sick. In fact, a certain number of infected will never show symptoms at all.
Obviously, those thermal scanners in use at airports won’t detect infected people in the asymptomatic stage. What’s worse is that, at present, most doctors and hospitals can’t even determine if an obviously sick person has COVID-19 in a timely manner. The grim fact is the test facilities and materials for detecting it are in critically short supply. If massive improvements in test capabilities aren’t made immediately, by the time a COVID-19 outbreak is detected here, it may already be at epidemic proportions.
4. Expect Isolation
Plan for at least two weeks of forced isolation. Reduce your chance of infection by minimizing your exposure to people. Avoid close contact (within six feet) and confined spaces, which are ideal for transmission of the virus. During a serious outbreak, expect schools, churches, and businesses to close. If you don’t have what you need when an epidemic hits your community, you might not be able to get it.
5. Nourish Your Body
For sustenance in insolation, stock up to the extent you can on non-perishable food, water, your prescription medicines, and multi-vitamins (to make up for any deficiencies in your diet).
6. Have a Strategy To Avoid Infection
Protect yourself from infection and check the spread of the virus. Have plenty of soap (anti-bacterial is slightly better than ordinary soap), hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol for use where washing is impossible), face masks or respirators (R95 rated), disinfectants to kill the virus on hard surfaces (alcohol, bleach, Lysol spray and wipes), extra laundry detergent, rubber gloves, paper towels, toilet paper, and tissues. The main prophylactic against any virus is not touching the face and eyes. Also, maintaining excellent hygiene is important, particularly frequent handwashing with soap (for at least 20 seconds in warm or hot water).
7. Masks Are Important, Despite What You’re Being Told
COVID-19 enters the body most easily through the lungs, followed to a much lesser degree by ingestion and lesser still by absorption through the eyes. To protect your lungs when you expect exposure to COVID-19, have masks to filter out the virus from the air. Better than that would be a reusable, commercial or medical respirator, rated P95, R95, N95, or better. Ordinary surgical-type masks, or improvised ones, also need to be on hand for anyone in the household showing signs of illness. By immediately donning a mask, the ill person reduces the danger of virus transmission.
Anyone sick should go to the hospital immediately for testing and isolation. Others sharing the same living space, but not showing symptoms, must remain isolated at their residence. They should mask up until they are determined to be heathy or ill. For those known infected with COVID-19, home isolation is risky and problematic. Most private residences don’t have negative-pressure isolation wards to effectively contain airborne viruses.
8. Zinc Lozenges
To treat normal flu and colds at home have Ibuprofen (for fever), Gatorade and Pedialyte (for restoring fluids), Saltine crackers (an easy-to-digest carbohydrate to keep your strength up) and zinc lozenges. Unlike vitamin C or prescription Tamiflu, over-the-counter zinc lozenges (ex. Cold-eze) might actually reduce the likelihood of catching COVID-19 in the same manner they reduce the chances of catching a cold. My doctor said six months of prophylactic use was tolerable for me without negative health effects. Consult your doctor to see if extended use of zinc lozenges is safe for you.