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Preparedness, not panic. Coronavirus update for RI

Overnight

Reported cases increased, as expected, from country to country. Protective measures are ramping – the word should be preparedness, not panic.

Masks and Protective Supplies

Even though the recommended use for protective face masks is for those infected with a virus or working in a healthcare facility to protect others from the spreading germs, there are those who will want to order a supply for their homes. It is a proactive step many will want to take, if only to assuage our fears.

Be aware that most online ordering – CVS, Walgreens, Amazon – will say that boxes of face masks are “out of stock” – also, most of them are actually “Made in China”, and shipping of supplies our of China is severely limited. Amazon stocks some, particularly for use by healthcare workers. However, you have to shop around the site to find some that do not come with what looks to be “price-gouging” rates – or shipping rates that are way too high.

In the last few days we’ve seen prices jump dramatically. One pack of masks that in late January were $4.21 are now $14.99 with as much as $55 for shipping.  Amazon is warning its 3rd party partners not to price gouge in this way.  Right now the best bet if you want to store away a box of masks in your home, is to visit a pharmacy or a medical supply store and purchase directly.

Keep in mind that these masks are not that useful in the case of a virus or a pandemic, and only those with respirators truly protect against keeping outside germs at bay.

N95 Respirators for Use by the Public

The FDA has cleared certain filtering facepiece respirators (N95) for use by the general public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not generally recommend facemasks and respirators for use in home or community settings. However, they may be appropriate for persons at increased risk of severe illness from influenza or other respiratory diseases. The FDA has cleared the following N95 respirators for use by the general public in public health medical emergencies:

  • 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8670F
  • 3M™ Particulate Respirator 8612F
  • Pasture Tm F550G Respirator
  • Pasture Tm A520G Respirator

Presidential Address

Last night the President addressed the country for only the second time in his administration from the Briefing Room, flanked by the national experts who have been speaking in daily updates.  He appointed Vice President Pence to head up a group to manage the response to the Coronavirus situation. He agreed to take more money than he had originally requested from congress and said “we will put it to good use”.  He maintained the country is prepared as no other country in the world, for a unique flu that will be part of our lives for years to come. He said there were 15 people now in country who have had the virus, with 14 recovered or recovering, and one “pretty sick but who will recover”. There are an additional 40+ US citizens taken in from the Japanese cruise. He reiterated that schools and businesses should get prepared, and officials who also spoke said we all need to dust off our preparedness plans, especially businesses. “This will end.” The stock market is also expected to recover, though decreases like we’ve seen were to be expected in a global emergency.

New York Update

Governor Bill DeBlasio went to a live news conference yesterday to review the status of coronavirus preparedness in The Big Apple. He noted that 80+ people may have been exposed in Nassau County, New York, and are being monitored after negative testing, and are self-isolating at home. He called for faster lab testing capabilities, and calling on the CDC to expand their testing of people incoming to USA, and named these countries, specifically: Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. DeBlasio went on to say that if someone has just returned from one of these countries with symptoms, they need to get to a doctor immediately – they  are being told to call 311 if they have no primary care or lack access, and the city will help coordinate doctor contact. “Better safe than sorry,” DeBlasio noted.

San Francisco

San Francisco declared a state of emergency – not because of cases of coronavirus, but to free up funds and processes to do what is being recommended – prepare.

Sick with any kind of flu?

What should you do if you think you have a contagious flu, or stomach bug; anything you might think is contagious. The CDC tells us…

Stay home except to get medical care

You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. Do not go to work, school, or public areas. Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.

Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick, just like you would around other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

Call ahead before visiting your doctor if you are sick

If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you are coming in sick. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

Flu or Coronavirus?

The only way to differentiate is to do a specific test as the symptoms are identical, at least in the beginning. They are fever, cough, difficulty breathing. Test kit production is being ramped up to have adequate supplies.

Wear a facemask

You should wear a facemask – if  you are sick – when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) or pets and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live with you should not stay in the same room with you, or they should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Many doctor’s offices today have both facemasks and sanitizers right at the entrance.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw used tissues in a lined trash can; immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Soap and water should be used preferentially.

Clean your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60 to 95% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid sharing personal household items

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, or bedding with other people or pets in your home. After using these items, they should be washed thoroughly with soap and water.

Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

High touch surfaces include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a household cleaning spray or wipe, according to the label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Monitor your symptoms

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening (e.g., difficulty breathing). If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911.

Rational? Or, irrational?

No, we don’t think we need to be walking around with face masks – but! – it’s changing day to day – stay tuned for RINewsToday for updates. In the meantime, none of these protective measures will hurt you – and if they make your fear a little less, then that is a personal decision you are free to make. Sheltering in home vs mass evacuation quarantine to a facility will be the plan. Corona virus vaccine research is ramping up. Treatment modalities are on a fast-track.

Remember the regular flu?

The annual, “regular FLU” has infected as many as 26 million people in the United States in just four months, killing up to 25,000 so far. Usually as many as 69,000 people die each year from a flu will have a vaccine and treatment for. When all is said and done this year, it is expected that the Coronavirus Flu will take its place among the yearly flu strains that will have a “flu shot” and treatment protocols.

Questions?

Send your questions to news@RINewsToday.com and we will attempt to provide an answer for you.

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