Loma Linda University Health And Inland World Affairs Council Dispel Myths About Coronavirus
On Tuesday, Loma Linda University Health and the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California held an informational event on coronavirus.
Dr. Adrian Cotton is the Chief of Medical Operations at Loma Linda University Health.
Cotton says there are different kinds of coronavirus.
Cotton: “There's the coronavirus that's been in the community for years and years that basically acts like a cold. And then there's this new coronavirus which has come, it was found the end of December in China, which is, this is the one that everybody's talking about that's now named COVID-19 that's now spreading throughout the world. The reason why this coronavirus is different from the coronaviruses we currently have been exposed to is it's new and there's not an immunity that's built up to it. If you compare this coronavirus to the SARS and MERS coronaviruses, because they're all cousins of each other, right now this one doesn't seem to be quite as bad in the fatality rate. So, there's about two percent of people that get this current one are passing away from it. Now the numbers that we have on the number of cases, and how it's been diagnosed probably underestimates what out there. So, the risk in the U.S. from a public health potential problem is high, as it is around the world. From individual perspective, the risk is actually very low in the United States. There's actually very few cases in the United States that hasn't been somebody that's come directly from an infected area.”
Cotton says the virus spreads as any virus does.
Cotton: “it goes from me to you, I wipe my nose, I grab a door handle, you grab the door handle, you wipe your nose, you get it. If you pass me in the hallway breathing, the likelihood of you getting it is almost zero. The reason why it spreads as quickly as it does in cruise ships and things like that is there's, people are so close together. So it's the proximity of people and the length of time they spend together - that's why it will propagate through tight-knit communities very very quickly.”
According to Cotton, Loma Linda University Health has taken a number of steps to prepare for coronavirus.
Cotton: “So we've looked at our capabilities of isolating patients and made sure that we have the ability to isolate as many patients as we can, which is not an unlimited number. We have made space out in our parking lot with a tent if we get overflow with too many patients. We continue to work with and educate nursing staff, physician staff, and actually all the staff on precautions that should be taken. We're also trying to educate the community on what can be done or what should be done from a precautionary perspective. Because the realistic plan is to not get it, rather than get it and treat it. And actually treatment is supportive, there is actually no treatment for the coronavirus. You support people while they go through it and then see how they're doing through that, but there's no actual treatment, no medications you can give that treats the coronavirus.”
Cotton says the most important thing now is avoidance.
Cotton: “So it's good hygiene and washing your hands frequently, and if you're sick and you're worried about, call your doctor's office before you go over there, or call an emergency room before you go over there, so that you can, if you had it, you wouldn't be spreading it amongst all the other people that are there. But the big key is washing your hands and good hygiene.”
Influenza is still a bigger threat than coronavirus in the United States, according to Cotton – so get your flu shot if you haven’t already.