In March of 1933 our 32nd President spoke these words, “..the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself– nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” The disease COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) has produced this effect on much of the world today. FDR was not referring to a world pandemic during his inauguration speech, however, I submit his words can be applied to our present-day circumstance. I propose the term “healthy respect” should be substituted for the term fear regarding COVID-19. Most of those reading this are involved with healthcare in some fashion and your best weapon against developing paralyzing fear is knowledge.
Through worldwide study and collaboration, experts generally accept the infectious period (the period in which one who has the virus may spread it) to be 10 days after the onset of infection. However, it has been determined a small fraction of persons with severe COVID-19 may shed replication-competent virus for up to 20 days. Additionally, if one practices excellent hygiene (washing hands thoroughly, keeping hands away from the face, coughing and sneezing into elbow creases, etc) and is not within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes of someone who is infected with SARS-CoV-2 the odds are one would not get it. Currently based on existing literature, the incubation time (time from exposure to development of symptoms) is anywhere from 2-14 days. This is important as I have fielded multiple questions regarding someone testing RT-PCR negative a day or two after being exposed and then developing symptoms and testing positive several days later.
Another frequently asked question involves the wearing of face masks. Although I, just like many of you, am not a fan of face masks there is undeniable evidence the appropriate use of them will decrease the spread of this disease. From our knowledge of the incubation period as well as what has been learned about SARS-CoV- 2 positive patients who are asymptomatic, many people walk around capable of spreading the disease without anyone’s knowledge. If you are that person, wearing a mask along with the other previously mentioned hygienic practices will decrease your odds of spreading it significantly. Those that don’t have the disease will improve their chances of not contracting it by wearing a mask as well.
Look, COVID-19 is an ever-changing target. Respect it but dig into any new information from credible sources as soon as it comes out and your comfort level in dealing with it will rise. Next time I will discuss the patient who recently had both doses of the vaccine, after having COVID several months ago, and tested positive last week. Until then, stay safe, hug your loved ones daily, and as always thank you for your business.
President/CEO Industry Lab Diagnostic Partners