By Jeanne Novas, MD 

This year has been a severe flu year. Our local hospitals are restricting classes, tours and visitors. Many patients are hospitalized with influenza. Our hospitals are specially equipped to handle infectious cases.

In order to contain both flu and COVID-19 we recommend the following:

Wash hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes especially in bathrooms, cover your cough, don’t touch your face. Avoid contact with others, handshaking. Throw out used napkins/tissues. Restrict travel for at least the next month especially with risk factors, pregnancy, including conferences and events. Masks are more for health care workers to protect them and to prevent transmission to others if you are coughing. Check the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website for latest info.

Stay home if you have a cough and/or fever. You are even more contagious. If you wish to be tested for flu or COVID-19, or need treatment, call us BEFORE going in for care. If you have flu, we prescribe Tamiflu early, which reduces flu severity especially in pregnancy. If you suspect COVID-19, you must get guidance from us so the hospital is prepared for you. Testing is authorized only if you have direct contact with a case, traveled to endemic areas such as Asia, Italy, Iran, AND have symptoms of cough/fever/trouble breathing, diarrhea.

We of course continue to care for you at our office and hospitals. We are taking extra precautions in sanitizing and wiping down our rooms between patients, removing toys. Our employees are not working if feeling ill with a cough or fever, and restricting travel of our employees. We also do not have symptomatic flu patients come to our office.

******Here are some facts on influenza and COVID-19, as of the date of this message****

The flu shot protects you from 57% of flu. The common flu has a 0.1% death rate, particularly in elderly and young, and those with health problems and pregnancy. In the USA this season we have had 34 million flu illnesses, 350,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths from the flu.

COVID-19 was first reported on December 9 in Wuhan China, that country now with 80,790 cases and 3,158 deaths, and is finally dropping in case reports after severe quarantines started January 30. They did not have hospital facilities to care for everyone. They now report approximately 50% are back to work, which is evidenced by satellite viewed pollution returning in China. In the USA there are now 1283 cases with 38 deaths, and is now starting select travel and event cancelations. Italy has more than 12,462 cases and 827 deaths as of now, and the whole country is in severe quarantine - streets are empty, enforced by police, and do not have enough ICU beds for patients. Worldwide, there have been 126,036 cases and more than 4,615 people have died.

COVID-19 appears to be mild/asymptomatic in 80% of people. The remainder are admitted with moderate-severe illness often requiring intensive care. The death rate is estimated worldwide 3-4% of patients, mostly 70 and older, male, and/or with chronic health issues. Children are not as susceptible as in flu.

COVID-19 is extremely contagious thru airborne fluids, especially if coughing and feverish. Bathrooms have been found to have positive feces, surfaces and even bathroom fans positive for the virus.

Call us with any questions, we are here for you to direct your care. Check the CDC website for latest info.

– Jeanne Novas, MD