MATTHEW SINCOCK, MD
Latest Update from Our Experts Regarding (COVID-19), June 4, 2022
The ongoing Covid pandemic remains an ongoing problem for our community. As always cases have varied with episodic surges over the past two years. The peak of the most previous Omicron surge appears to have passed though not before again severely testing our local healthcare community. More recently there has been another increase in the number of cases in the community, but fortunately as of this time there has not been as large an increase in hospitalized patients as seen with earlier surges.
With the large number of people who have been vaccinated as well as those who have had Covid and been fortunate enough to recover it is possible there will be changes to various infection control measure. However as always it is important to remember that the guidelines will continue to change based on any new information; should there be another surge it would be necessary to again make efforts to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible.
Again the basics of infection control are likely to remain the same or similar. Vaccination will remain our best tool against the virus. Other measures including mask wearing (recommend use of a quality mask such as a KN95 or similar), physical distancing, avoid crowded areas and being aware that transmission remains significantly more likely when indoors particularly in areas with poor ventilation. All of these efforts can slow the spread of the virus and make any future surge more manageable for our local healthcare community.
The pandemic from Covid-19 has unfortunately proven to be the deadliest outbreak seen in decades. With over 1,000,000 deaths in the USA alone without question this has been a deadly virus.
Early estimates about the mortality rate have varied and have been difficult to estimate given the number of asymptomatic cases. Early estimates were seen at approximately 3% while later estimates when accounting for asymptomatic cases suggested a rate between 0.5 -1.0%. Regardless the danger of the virus should not be underestimated and should not thought of as “just a bad flu”.
Recent variants include Delta and Omicron. Delta was significantly more contagious and led to a huge surge of cases including fatalities in our community. Omicron was more contagious yet, and while there was evidence it was slightly less dangerous because it was able to spread so quickly it still led to a tremendous number of cases and again fatalities in our community. It is important to realize that while small changes in the severity certainly have an impact, regardless the virus remains both highly contagious and highly dangerous.
As previous several factors do appear to increase risk for severe or fatal infection including advanced age, diabetes, coronary artery disease, COPD or other chronic lung disease, obesity, and certain immune-suppressing conditions. If you fall into one of those categories would recommend taking particular care to avoid the virus and would talk with your regular doctor about any steps that can be taken to make certain any chronic health problems are under the best control possible. Next to avoiding the virus the best way to prevent severe or fatal infection is to get vaccinated.
In addition, there have been a substantial number of false claims and conspiracy theories circulated about this virus. Please be aware that medical professionals here at Wilmington Health and across the country are risking their own health and the health of their families to provide the best care possible. Please do not make their job harder by spreading or entertaining misinformation.
For up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina, as well as information on vaccines, please visit: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
As previous information about the virus is being gathered every day. Information and new findings will be made at any time during the pandemic, and recommendations can and certainly will change over time. The primary method that the virus is transmitted is through direct person to person transmission through respiratory droplets over both short distances through larger droplets as well as airborne transmission over larger distances as well. Both the delta and especially the omicron variants have shown increased levels of transmissibility compared to earlier variants. Transmission over longer distances is of greater concern in indoor or enclosed areas with poor ventilation. Transmission through touching contaminated objects, then touching a mucous membrane (like the eye or nose) is possible as well but likely is a much smaller percentage of cases than those through respiratory spread. In general, indoor transmission is more likely than outdoor transmission but infection can occur in both locations.
All the recommendations that would work to prevent the spread of flu are applicable to preventing the spread of coronavirus:
- Get vaccinated, wash hands and wear a mask!
- Using a mask that is high quality (preferably a KN95 or similar) and that is well sealed on the face is important to achieve the highest levels of effectiveness
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean frequently touched objects with regular household cleaning spray or disinfectant
- If you are ill, wearing a mask to help prevent yourself from spreading the virus is crucial. Wearing a mask, in general, when out in public is also helpful as if you are sick and do not yet have symptoms you can still be contagious, and wearing a mask will again help prevent yourself from accidentally spreading the virus.
- Wearing a mask also protects yourself as should you be exposed to the virus, the mask will prevent some portion of that virus reaching your mucous membranes and the smaller the initial viral exposure the less severe the infection
- If you are ill with fever, cough, shortness of breath (or difficulty breathing), chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and/or new loss of taste or smell, stay home and do not go to work or other areas where you are likely to spread the virus.
- Social distancing (staying six feet from other people, no direct contact, avoiding large crowds especially in enclosed/cramped areas) is very important to slow the spread of the virus.
- Avoid large indoor crowds in poorly ventilated areas particularly where there are large numbers of people talking as that is a scenario very well suited to spread the virus
- Get vaccinated, wash hands and wear a mask!
The CDC provides information about travel and all should follow the posted guidelines. Please visit their link below for more details.
Again, the recommendations for this virus will change over time as new information becomes available and as new variants arise. In regard to changing recommendations we will continue to follow the guidance of the CDC as well as other local and state health officials.
Thank you for reading, and please follow our website and/or Facebook for ongoing updates! Wilmington Health will continue to monitor this closely!
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