The Coronavirus Appears in Wake County, North Carolina: Now is the time to use telemedicine
The coronavirus (COVID-19) seems to be surging the United States quickly. Just three days ago at a press conference, President Trump cited only 22 infected persons nation wide. Tonight, as I’m writing this article, there are 122 documented cases. That’s a caseload increase of 82% in the past three days, or 27.3% per day. And while we thought things were staying confined to the west coast and Canada, ABC 11 News reported a man from the Raleigh area is in quarantine after returning to RDU from Seattle. The CDC is now urging healthcare institutions and consumers to utilize TeleHealth and TeleMedicine platforms like LoginClinics to triage symptoms, conduct screening questionnaires and direct patients to proper testing locations if needed.
How long has the coronavirus been around?
Just to give you some background, coronavirus aren’t new- they’re a family of viruses that were responsible for the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2002 and the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2015. Their effects are broad. They usually cause common cold symptoms but can cause devastating epidemics like we’re seeing right now.
How is it spread?
We still don’t clearly understand how the virus is spread. Initially, the virus was associated with contact at a Wuhan China meat and seafood market where people had worked or visited, but now we know that the virus can be spread similar to that of the flu. This means breathing in air from an infected person or direct contact with an infected persons’ body fluids (sneezing, nose drainage, eye drainage, etc) can transmit the virus.
How long until symptoms develop?
Most cases occur about five days after exposure, but the entire incubation period is thought to be around 14 days.
How long does the virus last?
Recovery time ranges from about two weeks for mild infections to three to six weeks for severe infections.
How do people present?
Think pneumonia symptoms- fever, cough and shortness of breath. Here’s the most current symptoms information we have from a group of 314 Chinese patients courtesy of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 81 percent of infections were mild (no or mild pneumonia)
- 14 percent of infections were severe (shortness of breath and low oxygen levels, pneumonia in 24-48 hours)
- 5 percent were critically ill
- 3 percent resulted in death with most occurring in the elderly or those with multiple medical problems
How can I protect myself?
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer between washes. Avoid handshakes as well as avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Should I buy a face mask?
Not unless you are sick or caring for someone who is sick. Most don’t effectively block droplets that carry viruses. The US Surgeon General, Jerome Adams is telling the public to stop buying masks so as to reserve them for healthcare works and those infected. Adams notes “There are things people can do to stay safe. There are things they shouldn’t be doing. One of the things they shouldn’t be doing, the general public, is going out and buying masks. It actually does not help, and it has not been proven to be effective in preventing the spread of Coronavirus amongst the general public.”
Since viruses are nearly 100 times smaller than bacteria, the standard earloop surgical mask will not help. If you want to purchase a mask for personal use, I suggest making sure it covers the smallest particle size of the coronavirus which is 0.06 microns (N95 or N99). Check the filtration size before you buy!
Is there a vaccine?
Not yet, but one is being worked on at a expeditious rate. Still have to undergone trials, testing and production. Some say it could be up to a year before one is available.
Is it still ok to travel?
Currently, the CDC recommends avoiding all non-essential travel to China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. They recommend postponing traveling to Japan if you have multiple medical problems and practicing universal precautions if you head to Hong Kong. Access additional travel advisories here.
What should you do if you develop COVID-19 symptoms?
If you are stable and not in any distress, contact your doctor or healthcare professional by phone to get instructions before going in. You can also use LoginClinics to get a quick screening of symptoms and referral if one is needed. The use of telemedicine platforms like LoginClinics will limit your exposure to others and vice versa. If you do need to go to a medical facility or urgent care, use a face mask as quickly as possible upon entering.
Finally, I really am a fan of this interactive web-based dashboard that Johns Hopkins maintains. For realtime COVID-19 stats, visit it here.
To schedule an appointment or learn more go to www.loginclinics.com or call 919-679-1880.
LoginClinics, PLLC, offers patients telemedicine, urgent care, concierge medicine and counseling online through a smart phone or internet-connected webcam. Based in Wake Forest, North Carolina, the online clinic serves North Carolina residents. Founded by Jaclyn Qualter, a nurse practitioner and certified telemedicine provider, in September 2019, LoginClinics provides its fee schedule on its website at www.LoginClinics.com along with FAQs on how to use the online service. More information can be found on its social media www.facebook.com/TelemedicineNC or @loginclinics on Instagram.
Author: Jaclyn Qualter, Founder, Nurse Practitioner and Healthcare Mentor