Dear Patient of Lynch Primary Care:
This message is being posted in response to the multiple inquiries regarding coronavirus and COVID-19. Clearly this virus is accelerating in the general population and drastic measures are being taken to prevent widespread infection which could overwhelm the health care system. The goal is to avoid scenarios such as the current situation in Italy where the hospital providers are having to make difficult decisions as to who gets to go on a ventilator and who gets ICU care since there is just not enough to go around.
While nobody has definitive answers as to when this virus will start to subside, it is likely that we will start to see a decline in the number of infections over the next 4-6 weeks. It is also likely that the fatality rate will end up being in the 1-2% range as increased testing gives us a better idea of the actual total number of cases.
These are the things that we do know about the Novel Coronavirus:
- It is easily acquired through respiratory droplets or contact with virus-contaminated surfaces.
- People can be asymptomatic carriers of the virus for several days before symptoms actually occur.
- Social distancing and avoidance of large crowded gatherings have worked to decrease new numbers of coronavirus infected patients in China. (The same should happen here.)
- The overwhelming majority of patients with coronavirus will have nothing more than a mild to moderate cold.
- The survival rate for someone infected with coronavirus is in the 98-99% range for the general population. (This is a much lower number for elderly and debilitated patients, especially those with a history of congestive heart failure and/or underlying lung disease.)
- As opposed to the influenza virus (“the flu”), there is no definitive treatment or preventive vaccine for coronavirus.
- Your risk of contracting coronavirus as a result of going to the grocery store or the pharmacy is very low and close to zero risk with common-sense precautions.
The University of Maryland Medical System has arranged for drive-up coronavirus testing at Upper Chesapeake for those patients deemed to be at moderate to high risk for the disease. This can be facilitated by first contacting your primary care provider who will then make the appropriate arrangements for testing.
Based on these things that we do know, our recommendations are as follows:
- Adhere to common-sense precautions and social distancing as much is possible until we see a clear trend for a decrease in the coronavirus infection rate. This will likely be in the 4-6 week range. During this time, only go to stores when necessary and refrain from group activities.
- Avoid airline and overseas travel as much as possible in that same timeframe, especially if you have underlying heart disease, lung disease or any form of immunodeficiency or are on immunosuppressive therapy.
- Travel plans that are 2 months out from now are probably a safe bet; however, this is an evolving issue and that timeline may change. Be sure to get travel insurance if it is an option over the next several months.
We are here for you and we thank you for entrusting us with your healthcare. We do, however, ask for your patience during this unprecedented time. To be sure we limit the possibility of exposure for patients who are currently being seen in the office, as well as us, your healthcare team, we would ask that you please refrain from coming to the office unless you have a scheduled appointment. It is our duty to keep everyone safe and to have as little exposure as possible to COVID-19 as well as other viruses. Please call the office first before coming over. Many things we can handle over the phone for you. This is temporary but unfortunately necessary at this time. If you should choose to reschedule routine office visits, we certainly understand and will be happy to reschedule your visit for a future date. There is also the option of having your visit via telephone and hopefully very soon, by video chat.
We appreciate your understanding and please know that you are not only protecting yourself from possible exposure, but also helping the community as a whole by keeping a safe distance between yourself and others. In the meantime, call the office if you have any additional questions or concerns. We are happy to help through this difficult situation.
Do not panic! This too shall pass!
J. Kevin Lynch, M.D., F.A.C.P.
Kendal E. O’Hare, M.D.
Lynch Primary Care