COVID-19 is a viral infection touching many extended families throughout the World. As each of us learns of the experiences of those we know and trust, we gain personal insight into it.
People who are sick with COVID-19 often feel profound fatigue, have a dry cough that can make it difficult to speak, and might have uncomfortable high fevers.
The news has been reporting on our recent surge of new cases here in Florida. Florida has had a total of 4,409 deaths from 291,629 total infections. The first half of July, alone, produced 17.8% of all the Florida cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
With the increase in cases, we need to be mindful of hospital capacity to handle this increased load. As of today, hospital bed remaining capacity in Florida is 21% and ICU beds 17%. With 8,345 people with COVID currently hospitalized in Florida, we continue to have remaining capacity to care for patients.
Rate of Spread
The rate of spread of infection is measured by R0. Our current R0 is 1.09, down from a high of 1.34 in early June. This means that every infected person is spreading the infection to an aditional person out of every 11 people they interact with. The spread will slow down when the R0 drops below 1.
To drop our R0, we need to find ways to live normal lives where we can maintain spacing (6ft or more) between people and measures to decrease transmission potential (frequent hand washing and protective masks).
I would like to remind everyone that many patients do not require hospitalization and recover safely with over the counter measures at home. At this time, we have no medications to cure COVID-19. There are some that help people feel better, but none have been shown to help you get better faster.
- But what about Remdesivir? For those with severe illness in the ICU, it helps – but not for those who are not hospitalized.
- What about hydroxychloroquine? The jury is still out. It is only being used for clinical trials right now.
- What about budesonide? Maybe for those with asthma, they will feel better. The jury is still out on this otherwise as well given how corticosteroids have a potential for prolonging viral replication (worsening COVID-19)
Treatment remains symptomatic care which means simply addressing symptoms. If there is nausea, we treat nausea. If there is cough, we treat cough. For fatigue, rest.
We also have found that breathing exercises help as does spending time laying on your stomach.
Testing and When to Return to Work
Not everyone needs to be tested. An astounding 2,688,366 COVID-19 tests have been performed so far here in Florida! It is my opinion that asymptomatic people in general, do not need to be tested.
If you have had close contact (less than 6 feet for several minutes) with someone who has COVID, you can quarantine for 14 days after your last contact (as per CDC).
The CDC also has return to work guidelines. You can return to work if at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms) and at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
- Cases have been rising
- But we continue to have sufficient capacity as a whole across Florida
- The spread is slowing as R0 has improved from 1.34 to 1.09
- But there is more to go – the virus is still increasing its spread in Florida
- We need to continue to be creative as we learn how to live with this virus, which is not going away anytime soon.