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Coronavirus 8.0

I think we can successfully stem this out break by the actions we are taking now. With time we will learn more about the virus and that data can further guide policy. The ability to quickly disseminate information, find “hotspots” of activity and comply with recommendations will be the most important reasons it can work. The key interventions still are on the individual level (good hand washing, self quarantine if ill, avoiding travel and public places if at higher risk, cough covering, smart social distancing etc.). I think we need to do them within the parameters of a semblance of normalcy though. We are starting to go over that line into becoming a paralyzed, panic stricken, socially isolating, scared nation. That level of stress can have a real negative medical impact as well, especially on those with anxiety disorders. Remembering that most people get mildly ill and recover, we need to protect, not isolate the vulnerable populations and they need to protect themselves by not taking unnecessary risks. It is people over 60 (more risk with each decade older you are) and those with underlying medical conditions that are by far at highest risk.

Those who are true suspect cases but mildly ill need to respect not exposing people. Healthy exposed but quarantined people need to do the same. They should call before they go anywhere for care so they are correctly triaged and advised. Forcing many healthy people, particularly health care workers to quarantine by exposing them only makes things worse. For that same reason, resist going to emergency departments unless you are truly sick enough to warrant hospital level care.

We must try to live our normal lives but more carefully. More intensive interventions may be coming but I think that perspective should be where we are right now. It may well turn out there will be more lives saved by preventing flu from the steps we are taking than in preventing Covid 19 deaths. The flu versus Covid narrative has been over emphasized. It doesn’t really matter in the end, they are both respiratory infections that can become severe and lethal in rare cases and pretty much in the same risk groups (the exception being children seeming so resilient to Covid) These steps are always good practices and should become part of American life going forward. It may wind up we just learn to live with another seasonal pathogen every year but working on vaccines and treatments will continue and right now we still have a chance to beat it down. Let’s try to do that without panicking.