What we know about COVID-19
To the editor:
Questions and answers regarding the coronavirus.
(1) How contagious is the COVID-19 virus? Very contagious. Much more contagious than the usual influenza virus. As of March 20, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control reports 16,000 cases of coronavirus with 210 deaths in the United States.
(2) How is it spread? Respiratory droplets, aerosols, cough, plastic and metal surfaces.
And how long can the virus survive on inert (non-living surfaces) such as doorknobs, plastic jugs, countertops, elevator buttons and gas pumps? Studies have shown that even 48 to 72 hours later, a large number of virus are still present on plastic and stainless steel countertops.
(3) Are younger people safe from getting infected? No, remember among the first to die in China was a 32-year-old physician. Over half the cases occurring in New York fall into the 18-49 age group.
Younger people can spread the virus to their grandparents or parents who might not be so fortunate to survive the disease.
(4) Why do senior citizens get sicker? They carry more “baggage,” i.e. hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Even before the arrival of the coronavirus we were seeing large numbers of regular influenza patients becoming very sick and requiring hospitalization. Out of 36 million cases of the flu, 370,000 were hospitalized with N1H1 virus 22,000 deaths including 144 children.
COVID-19 has the potential to be worse. Older individuals get influenza then pneumonia, which triggers a systemic (body-wide) hyper-inflammatory reaction. This can lead to respiratory failure, shock, sepsis, myocarditis (heart inflammation) heart attack and death.
(5) How can we cut down on exposure? Social distancing, washing, wash-wash your hands with soap or a disinfectant with at least 60 percent alcohol or wash for 21 seconds, i.e. about two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song or say The Lord’s Prayer once.
Dr. GARY P. MILLER
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of Danville City Council.