From an interview with
Corporate Director of Infection Prevention
Radio 945 Talk interviewed Michelle King on Friday, March 6, 2020, about the Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Here’s a summary of King’s comments on the Liz Callaway show:
Let’s first just talk about what brought us the virus COVID-19 or the 2019 Coronavirus. First, it’s a novel virus. It originated in animals and, then, mutated and crossed to humans.
Because it’s “novel” and no one has yet had before this outbreak, no one has immunity to it. Everyone is susceptible to the virus. The people who are at higher risk are the elderly or those with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and COPD. All of those things will make you more susceptible or at a higher risk for the infection.
Now the symptoms of the infection are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Of course, that’s very similar to what you get with the flu and we’re still in the height of our flu season right now. But I think really the most important thing to remember about COVID-19 is that 80% of the people who get this infection, the infection is mild, like a cold. Some people may not have any symptoms.
You have to remember:
The other things that people can do to prevent the spread of Coronavirus is washing your hands often. When we go out into public places, we don’t even think about all the things that we touch — doorknobs, handles, phones, elevator buttons. And thousands of other people are touching the same things in those places.
When you go out into a public place, make sure that you clean your hands before you eat or before you’re going to touch your face. Your mucous membranes on your face, your eyes, your mouth, and your nose are where you’re going to get this virus. It’s spread by droplets, but you can also get it on your hands and touch your eyes, nose, or mouth and infect yourself.
Do you have a position on whether people should pick up these N95 masks or whether that’s a useful thing to have, or whether that’s a waste of time?
It really won’t make a difference in preventing you getting the infection. If people cough or sneeze into their elbow and wash their hands, they’re not going to spread it.
The benefit of a mask is for healthcare workers or people who are already infected and know they are, so they don’t spread the disease to someone else.
Now an N95 mask should be used only if you’ve been fit tested for it. People who are buying them on the internet, they don’t really know whether or not this mask is really fitting them correctly. So it’s not a good thing to waste those masks when it causes a depletion of N95 masks for the healthcare workers, who need them.
What is generally regarded in the medical field as the official end of flu season? When does the temperature get to the point that flu starts to wane?
We count of how many outpatient positive flu tests we have, how many inpatient hospitalizations of flu we have, and we watch that to see where we are. Usually the season will peak a couple of times.
We’ve already had one peak, but “flu season” is usually over by the end of March or the beginning of April. Sometimes we’ve had seasons that kind of lingered a little bit longer, but that’s generally when they’re over.
The fatality rate for Coronavirus is around 2%. That has alarmed people, because they think it’s more fatal than flu, but it’s not.
Again, wash your hands. If you’re sick, stay home. If you need medical care, call ahead so the physician or the Emergency Department to let them know that you’re coming. You can also use McLeod Telehealth.
All right, very good. Michelle King, thank you so much. The corporate director of infection prevention over at McLeod Health. Thank you so much for all that information. I feel much better now, actually.
For more information, visit McLeodHealth.org or CDC.gov.