The coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19, is a trying and unprecedented time. As chief medical officer of Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, I wanted to share some insights on the virus and how we can all stay safe.
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is really a numbers game.
The virus needs people to multiply and spread. All of us are potential carriers who can be infected without knowing it.
Right now, on average, every infected person passes coronavirus to two or three other people, who in turn infect two to three others. After only 10 cycles, a single original person can infect 20,000 people in only four or six weeks.
So how do we prevent this?
We can start by reducing our social contact. If we can reduce social contacts by one-third, the number of people who will need to be hospitalized will drop 20-fold. This simple step will allow us more time to determine what treatments work, and prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.
Where do we start?
By staying away from other people. Humans are social by nature, but this is not the time for that. Outside of your immediate household, keep your distance from everyone, including friends and relatives. Remember the 6-foot rule.
That means no more birthday parties, sleepovers, play dates, meetups and outings to playgrounds, where virus particles can linger.
Implement other tactics to keep your home virus-free:
- Leave only if absolutely necessary and head straight back as soon as your errand is completed.
- Exercise outside the house alone or only with members of your household.
- If you buy groceries or cook meals for neighbors who cannot get out, call to let them know you are coming by, and leave your delivery outside their front door.
- If you do go out, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you can, preferably before you touch any surfaces in your home.
- A card or tennis game with friends may sound like fun, but the virus travels on surfaces (cards, tennis balls). Play only with those in your immediate household.
I urge you to stick to this approach, as difficult as it may seem. This will enable our nurses, doctors, first responders, pharmacists and other essential personnel to continue doing their jobs to support you.
Stay safe and stay healthy.
Dr. Steven Green is the chief medical officer of Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.