Covid-19 Update and misc. December 6th. 2020
- Covid cases are extremely high right now, both nationally and locally. There is a stay-at-home order from Gov. Newsom effective tonight. This is the third (and I hope final) wave. Hospitals and more critically ICU”s are filling up. We need to stay home with immediate family or roommates and stop the spread now.
- While the above is frightening and urgent, Vaccination is just around the corner. Approval in the UK last week and hopefully U.S. this week. Following that, rapid distribution and beginning to vaccinate. The current plan is for frontline health care workers and nursing home residents to be first in line. Other vulnerable groups to follow. The vaccination is two separate shots 3-4 weeks apart and takes about five weeks from first injection for protective immunity. The immunity levels of this vaccine are HIGHER than native infection as measured by antibody responses.
- We need to get through the challenges of the next two months or so and I believe a combination of changing human behavior and the beginning of vaccination will make a huge difference. By the spring, we hope, everyone will be getting in line to be vaccinated. Once 70% of the population is vaccinated, the virus should fade into a low background of cases. We can then test and trace and hopefully get it wiped out by the summer/fall.
- My office is open. Two thirds or more of our appointments are telemedicine. If you have a face-to-face appointment upcoming and wish to switch to a video visit, let us know. We can do a lot on video, just not examine joints or organs, draw blood, inject, or scan. Our appointments are briefer, of necessity, and we have HEPA filtration in every room we use.
- What can you do to stay safe and healthy? Same as before. Mostly stay home. Go outside to walk daily and stay away from people when doing so, mask if anyone is near. Avoid indoor spaces with strangers. Get food delivered or pickup at door of facility. Wear the best masks you have indoors (N95, KN95, surgical, cloth, ski pullover). This list is in descending order of protection— for you and for others. A face shield may help for close contact. But the best thing to do is avoid close contact with strangers right now and indoor spaces.
- Air filtration: does not matter if you live alone or with a small number of safe people. For essential work settings or other indoor spaces (e.g. dental office) look for open windows, HEPA filters, or MERV-13 level air filters in the HVAC system. Upgrade yours if you are able.
- To my Jewish patients, Happy Chanukah this week, may the lights bring some light into our dark winter for you and family.
- There is light at the end of this tunnel. A vaccine is prepared, effective, and been extensively tested. We just need to get through a difficult few months.
We are all in this together.
David Schechter, M.D.