|There is a lot of incomplete, inaccurate, and contradictory information circulating around the latest coronavirus outbreak. This email is to help you sort through the noise and get prepared.
The most important thing to know is that there is no need to panic. The best way to avoid last-minute stress is to gather good information and prepare ahead of time. We are still learning, and the situation is changing every day. Based on the expert judgment of scientists who have been tracking it, this will be a pandemic and there will be widespread, problematic exposure in the U.S. But we can slow the spread and minimize strain on community resources. Part of being a good neighbor is taking responsibility for our own wellbeing during this time.
SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that spreads very effectively between humans via respiratory droplets and surfaces, sometimes before symptoms are recognized. We don’t know how often presymptomatic cases are transmitted. It is not airborne, like measles and smallpox. There are no antivirals or vaccines that reliably work against it yet. To reduce the risk of being infected and spreading infection:
- Use strict hand hygiene: refrain from shaking hands, touching public surfaces, and touching your face. Start practicing now. Work with friends to develop awareness, and make it a game.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and running water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid public gatherings and unnecessary travel, and work from home whenever possible.
- There is strong evidence that Chinese medicine (CM) formulas can help curb the spread of contagious respiratory diseases. In three studies from 2004, herbal formulas were 100% effective in preventing the spread of SARS. In 2009, four studies showed that H1N1 influenza infection was significantly lower among people who were treated with CM. These studies are relevant because the symptoms and characteristics of those viruses are similar to the new coronavirus that is spreading.
- If you do develop cold or flu like symptoms, call ahead before going to a clinic or hospital.
- Masks have not proven to be an effective protection for the general public. They are useful to keep the already-sick people from spreading the virus. Think of them as keeping the pathogen in, not keeping it out.
Beyond these measures, it’s a good idea to steadily accumulate a supply of food, medicine, and hygiene needs that will last about 2 weeks. This article has a good approach.Based on the case studies available, I’ve stocked up on herbs that will help improve immunity and fight the pathogen if taken early enough, plus formulas to help with more serious respiratory conditions. I am happy to do herbal consult appointments for no charge other than the cost of herbs. I recommend stocking your medicine cabinet with these formulas, so you can prevent infection or respond at the very first sign of infection. This virus moves quickly. Early symptoms include sore throat, fever, runny nose, and cough. Some people also experience GI symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
COVID-19 is the disease that results from the virus. In most cases, it is a mild illness, but in 20% of cases, it causes severe viral pneumonia that is unresponsive to antibiotics and leads to long-term hospitalization. It has a mortality rate of 2-3%. The elderly are the most at-risk population for both hospitalization and death. If you have loved ones in a residential-care facility, start talking now about how the facility plans to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
The progression of the illness seems to begin with an incubation period of about 5 days, although there have been reports of people developing symptoms more than 14 days after being exposed and testing negative. Most people will develop mild to moderate cases, and recover within 2 weeks. Day 7 has been reported as the worst. For those who become critically ill, medical attention is sought for shortness of breath and pneumonia around Day 4.