We had the opportunity to sit in on a global call with one of the world’s leading public health scientist and biosecurity and infectious disease expert, Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, as he gave his candid take on the COVID-19 pandemic (officially declared such by WHO on 3/11).
As a company that values not only the health and wellness of our customers, but society at large, we wanted to share some of the takeaways from Dr. Osterholm. By sharing expert opinions and learning the facts, we can all feel more empowered during these stressful and uncertain times.
Don’t panic. The virus is not dangerous for most people. The elderly and those with serious medical conditions are the groups primarily at risk. However, due to limited resources to test and treat and the exponential growth of cases, it’s important to still limit exposure around crowds to slow the outbreak and prevent spreading it to people who are at risk, even if you are not at risk.
If elderly or you have existing medical conditions its best to avoid crowds, particularly indoors.
It is highly contagious. COVID-19 is airborne (can be transmitted through the air). It will likely continue to spread quickly over the next 4-8 weeks, possibly longer. As testing improves, we’ll realize there are more cases than we thought. People who are infected are very contagious even prior to showing symptoms, which is why social distancing and self-quarantine are crucial steps to take to slow the outbreak.
We’ve seen viral outbreaks like this before and will again in the future. COVID-19 is significantly less severe and dangerous than SARS, for example, but it is much more contagious. Some viruses die in warm weather, but we don't know if COVID-19 will as there have been strains in the past that were heat-resistant. There also won’t be a vaccine anytime soon, so it simply has to run its course.
Other things you can do to help slow the outbreak and prepare for social distancing or lockdowns.
- Despite being transmitted through the air, keep washing and sanitizing your hands! This is just a basic, healthy practice.
- Stock up on basic supplies so you can minimize being in the public and ensure you have critical drugs in the event they become difficult to obtain.
- Stop buying up medical supplies due to panic. Surgical masks have no proven prevention benefit and are only helpful if the infected person is wearing it. Similarly, the N95 respirator should be reserved for medical health professionals as there is a major shortage (and only really work for prevention when applied by an expert).
Dr. Osterholm’s main takeaway is that while there are knee jerk reactions to the outbreak, it will be a situation we will be dealing with for several months. Keeping healthy habits, distancing yourself from large crowds and self-quarantining as early as possible, will be key to slow the spread and protect at-risk groups. For more information and updates visit the official CDC website.