A message from The Center for Closing the Health Gap
By Clyde Henderson, MD
Cincinnati Medical Association
COVID-19 continues to infect, affect, and kill many Americans. It has been recently fueled by political rallies conducted by the current President according to researchers at Stanford University. These researchers estimate that the 18 rallies evaluated resulted in an increase of COVID-19 cases by 30,000. Johns Hopkins University reported that on the day after Election Day we reached another peak in case numbers of over 102,000 and there were 1,047 deaths. Unfortunately, the daily case count rose to 126,000 four days later. Hospitalizations continue to rise in the majority of states. This disease has infected over 9.8 million Americans.
Now that the election is behind us, we will obviously have fewer public gatherings for political purposes and people will not be waiting in lines to vote. Hopefully, during this presidential transition, the incumbent President will govern and encourage all people consistent with the best public health practices. Political ramifications and past “policy” stances should be put aside for the sake of the public welfare. The Defense Production Act (DPA) can be used to improve testing, PPE availability, and vaccine distribution.
In the news is a CDC report regarding COVID-19 and pregnancy. The study evaluated 400,000 COVID-19 symptomatic women, aged 15-44. The data showed that pregnant women in the group were more likely to require ICU admission, ventilator use, special lung oxygenation techniques (ECMO), or to die when compared to non-pregnant women. Counseling about the increased COVID-19 severity risks during pregnancy is necessary. Clearly, it is imperative that we all be diligent to lessen the possible exposure of future mothers. WEAR your masks!
The federal government has not only failed to consistently encourage mask wearing and social distancing but has also failed to adequately implement the Defense Production Act. Contact tracing and isolation policies, which are time-tested measures proven to be effective in fighting pandemics, have been inconsistently applied.
We the people, must therefore be steadfast and protect our own health. Ohio weather is getting colder and people are forced indoors. We are tired of not seeing our friends and not hugging our relatives. Yet we will not be keeping our family and friends safe if we gather with them indoors for the holidays. Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) said in a recent interview, “These innocent family and friends gatherings: six, eight, 10 people come together in someone’s home, you get one person who’s asymptomatic and infected, and then all of a sudden four or five people in that gathering are infected.”
Secondly, if you are in close contact with someone who is diagnosed as COVID positive, then you should self-quarantine for 14 days. The countries which have lower case and death rates than the USA have taken this quarantining requirement more seriously. Also recognize that when someone you live with becomes positive; you have a 53% chance of becoming infected as well. Next recognize that if you are exposed, you need to wait 5-7 days before getting tested. You are not likely to test positive before 5-7 days. Also be aware that you may be faced with deciding whether you should participate in a specific activity. Everything that is allowed is not necessarily wise nor safe. Note that things are just going to be different for a while. Recognize that everyone is not as careful as you. Lastly, if the infection rate is high in your area, you are in more danger of being exposed.
Let us physicians repeat, Americans are not powerless! We must properly WEAR a mask (covering your nose and mouth) when out of our houses and around people with whom we do not live. Note that a multiple ply paper mask is preferable, although a cloth mask is better than no mask. WASH your hands twenty seconds or use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces. WATCH your distance by maintaining at least 6 feet between you and those with whom you do not live. Develop a safe gathering plan, which may to be virtual, for the holidays. Avoid large public crowds, meaning no more than ten people. Get your flu shot and keep your hands away from your face and mouth.