COVID-19: How to prevent a worst-case scenario
Seeking normalcy while remaining vigilant about COVID-19 is difficult. Many people want to get on with their lives. Prisma Health Chief Clinical Officer Wendell James III, MD, offered some cautionary advice to avoid a worst-case scenario.
“The virus is not going anywhere. All we did initially through the stay-at-home order was stop the spread, but it is still just as contagious as it was to start with. We can’t keep everybody home for six months. We need everyone to do the right thing for the community so that we can continue to open up our economy and our businesses,” said Dr. James.
How do we keep our state open?
Dr. James offered these tips:
- Social distance yourself.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
- If you are sick, do not go to work. Get a test and isolate yourself for 10 to 14 days. Stay out of the community and away from your family members.
- Wear a mask, especially when in a group where social distancing is difficult.
- Get a flu shot.
- See your doctor for your chronic illness, such as blood pressure problems or diabetes.
What about the belief that the virus is a hoax?
“Some of this has been politicized, but there’s also been confusion. Anytime you deal with a critical new event, things change very fast. Whether it’s a natural disaster or a pandemic, you learn as you go, and this has been a very fast learning curve. We’ve learned new modalities for treating the virus. We’ve also learned that some of the things we thought weren’t working actually did work, such as masking. I would encourage people to look to their medical institutions in their areas for the source of truth,” said Dr. James.
What can happen if we don’t take precautions against COVID-19?
“Worst-case scenario is that nobody pays any attention. We continue to spread this virus rapidly, and once again we have to do something fairly extreme like we did initially.” He said this scenario could be especially harmful for people with chronic diseases. “We want to avoid having our normal patient population, with their chronic diseases, stacked on top of COVID, stacked on top of a bad flu season. Stacking all three on top of one another would be very difficult to manage.”
Why there’s hope
“The risk is mitigated by the public’s behavior,” said Dr. James. “The public is in total control of how good or badly this goes. The more they participate in maintaining their distancing and following the instructions they are being given, the more smoothly and less problematic this will be for everybody.”
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