Updated COVID-19 Q&A

Here are a few questions and answers about our current Coronavirus outbreak. Do you have additional questions you would like answered? Send an email to jimweisgram -at- gmail -dot- com

Is there a difference between the terms “COVID-19” and “coronavirus”? COVID-19 is the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The term novel coronavirus means “new type of coronavirus”. The COVID-19 coronavirus disease was identified in 2019. SARS and MERS are caused by different coronaviruses than COVID-19.

How is COVID-19 transmitted? Most commonly it is shared when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and eject virus laced water droplets. These droplets will quickly fall from the air, usually within 6 feet. Hence the advice to keep six feet away from another person. Droplets that fall on a soft surface will only survive a few hours. Droplets that fall on a hard surface may survive a few days.

Regarding handwashing…First, watch this video from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxOJ7hh3H-I

Now that you are finished laughing and maybe singing, let’s continue

Why should I wash my hands so often? Your hands may pick up some live viruses from a surface you touch, even a surface infected days before. Properly washing your hands often will remove the virus. All you need is soap and water. Get your hands wet and use enough soap to get your hands sudsy, and somewhat vigorously rub all parts of your hands together. The palms, the tops, fingers into the web between your fingers, your thumbs, rub your fingernails against the palm of the other hand `and then swap hands. It should take about 20 seconds to cover all the spots.

Kids may find it useful to sing the ABC song while they wash their hands.

When should I wash my hands? When you get up in the morning, before you use the toilet, after you use the toilet, before you cook a meal or handle food, before you eat, after you eat, before you go outside, after you come inside, after you use a computer, after you get dressed, after you put your shoes on, when you go to bed, when you remember to, … you get the idea. And sanitize your phone and the case, following manufacturer recommendations.

I am a person living alone or we are a couple without support and I/we need assistance during this time, and I need assistance. For a medical, police, or fire emergency call 911. Otherwise call 211.

How does COVID-19 compare to the flu? It is a completely new disease. Compared to the flu, it is easier to contract COVID-19 and severe cases may more easily develop into pneumonia or other serious complications. 

Are some groups more at risk than others? Older adults, or those with active disease that requires ongoing medication are more at risk of developing severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19. Also, older adults living in long term care. Compared to the general population, this disease has a larger impact on people who are part of historically underserved communities.

If you are involved with a community organization trying to help historically underserved communities, that needs additional support from service agencies, you can email jvic@portlandoregon.com. Learn more about JVIC  (Joint Volunteer Information Center) at the website: bit.ly/mult-co-jvic. This is a joint effort organized by the city of Portland and Multnomah County to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Why are we now being advised to wear face masks when we are in public? To avoid giving others the COVID-19 disease. You could already be infected with COVID-19 but show no symptoms. Your cough or sneeze may shed droplets that contain the virus. The mask may prevent these droplets from getting into the surrounding environment. If you wear a mask, wash and dry it when you get home. You may want two masks, so that you have a spare.

If you have a respirator-type mask such as an N95 still sealed in packaging, that mask can be better used by medical professionals. They need that kind of protection for themselves, coworkers, and their patients. It is good for the whole community if they have sufficient protection, and so it is good for you too. 

What about the medications Hydroxycholoroquine (Plaquenil®) and Remdesivir? These medications have had quick but not rigorous medical trials. The most recent studies for Hydroxycholoroquine show worse outcomes for COVID-19 sufferers than not taking it. AND, it may be dangerous to take.  Hydroxycholoroquine in particular is known to cause heart problems in some people. For now, it is only recommended for hospitalized patients that can be monitored closely. Take it only under the guidance of your doctor. 

Another reason to not use Hydroxycholoroquine unless the need is clear: people with other illnesses need it, in particular, those with Lupus or Crohn’s Disease. A run on these Hydroxycholoroquine has created a shortage.

Remdesivir may be closer to approval for general use with COVID-19. It was developed during the last ebola outbreak, but has not been in wide use. Availability is very limited.

Studies have been reported from COVID-19 patients in hospital while on ventilators. Very early studies have been more positive than with Hydroxycholoroquine. Side effects are possible liver problems that need to be monitored for while the medication is being taken.

With both of these medications, clinical trials for these medications to date have way too few patients studied to be conclusive, and the test methods were to gather information as quickly as possible; studies with rigorous controls have not been completed. Additional early results are coming in soon. More formal studies will take longer.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19, visit the Multnomah County COVID-19 web site: http://bit.ly/mult-co-covid-19

>> Jim Weisgram KJ7DMV

Jim is on the MSANA board and functions as the MSANA liaison to the NET (Neighborhood Emergency Team).

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