MEDIA RELEASE - March 11, 2020
Tips from Orleans Parish Medical Society to limit the spread of coronavirus
NEW ORLEANS, LA (UPDATED, March 11, 2020) - Much has been said about the coronavirus through the media. Unfortunately, a vaccination has not yet been created to defend against the virus. At this snapshot in time, the Louisiana Department of Health has reported six presumptive positive cases of coronavirus. Going forward, simple precaution, not panic, is our best defense.
In countries that have experienced the epidemic, it’s the most vulnerable individuals that have been impacted most from the coronavirus. As with influenza, those less likely to survive include the frail elderly and those with compromised immune systems. We also know that smokers and vapers are more vulnerable to diseases like this that attack the lungs.
Although the young and healthy might simply experience symptoms similar to the common cold, they are more likely to carry and spread the disease to the more challenged. So, please stay informed. By taking precautions, we can limit the spread of the virus.
Here are some steps to lower your chances of catching and spreading the coronavirus:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze into your shirt sleeve or a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
Wash your hands regularly scrubbing thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and preferably warm water. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Wash your hand towels often.
Avoid shaking hands by using alternative forms of greetings.
Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose and mouth).
If possible, use a paper towel to touch restroom door handles on the way out.
Clean and disinfect the most commonly touched surfaces in homes and offices regularly, especially shared spaces like countertops, remote controls, refrigerator, door handles and phones.
Do not stockpile masks. The World Health Organization has published recommendations for mask use. Stockpiling could potentially deprive the most at-risk who must follow those guidelines. In fact, the U.S. surgeon general recently urged Americans to stop buying face masks because stockpiling limit the availability for medical personnel.
When it comes to stockpiling food, everyone living in this area should be familiar with what might be important for any natural disaster such as quarantine. It’s always advisable to have a short-term supply of food, water and vital prescription medications just in case.
Most importantly and as with all illnesses, if you think might be sick, stay home. Don’t go to school or work and avoid travel. Take care of yourself and avoid spreading illness to others. Every flu season we learn that many workplaces are not accommodating enough to allow employees to stay home when sick. In the long run, businesses may be more impacted if government shutdown measures are taken.
If you believe you might have a virus, seek medical care. The Louisiana Department of Health and the CDC share clear guidelines for exactly how and when to seek medical attention early in the disease’s course. Containment measures of the coronavirus depend on early detection and isolation of people at the beginning of the infectious stage.
Visit www.cdc.gov for more information about how to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
Juan J. Gershanik, MD
Orleans Parish Medical Society