An ER Physician Comments On Coronavirus Fears

Everyone should read this !!!

Ok… since I am literally on the front lines of CoVid... aka Coronavirus, let me debunk and clarify a few things that I keep getting asked about or feel you should know:

  1. The media makes money off sensationalizing things and fear mongoring. So do politicians. There’s a difference between factual reporting and responsible public awareness information and fueling widespread panic, crippling industries, promoting apocalyptic like behaviors and making our jobs in emergency medicine even more work than it already is… please understand this when you see news coverage on this virus
  2. It’s a virus. And a strain variation of one you’ve likely already had in your lifetime. Most coronavirus strains give you the common cold. To date, influenza is still more common and more lethal in general and yet most of you go about your business with flu, flu season, flu exposures, lack of flu vaccine use (🙄), and known flu risks without a second thought. And it comes EVERY winter. And it kills the elderly, really young and immunocompromised every year. Occasionally it kills young and healthy people too, but rarely. Coronavirus is no different. If you don’t panic over the flu, don’t panic of this.
  3. We don’t have true data because we CANNOT test everyone with a snotty nose, cough and fever. Despite what you may have heard from our government on tv, we do not have enough test kits for everyone. Those tests are saved for the very sick so we know what we are up against. However, if we aren’t testing the less sick, then it stands to reason that the data is skewed. (See #1 about fear mongoring and irresponsible reporting). And while we are on this topic, please do NOT come to your doctor or the ER “just to make sure” you don’t have it. If you have a fever, runny nose, cough and body aches you likely do have it or influenza, which is still in season. There is no cure for either and both are highly contagious. So wash your hands and stay home. And stay away from those who are at risk for seriously being ill. If you are a provider or physician in a clinic, do NOT send them to us for testing unless they are seriously ill. The test doesn’t come back for 24-48hrs anyways and there are many steps required to meet criteria for testing at this time.
  4. Maybe now would be a good time to remind the general public about what is an emergency. If you are having chest pain, trouble breathing, severe pain from an unknown source, high fevers with severe fatigue or weakness, stroke like symptoms, acute confusion, a broken bone, etc… then please come see us. If you have an itchy rash, chronic back or dental pain, a gout flare up, a diaper rash, constipation, etc… let’s save those things for your regular doctor. If you have risk factors like cancer, copd, chf, diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, are >80 yrs old and you develop coronavirus symptoms-YOU should come see me in the ER asap! Otherwise, YOU should be the ones considering a self-quarantine.
  5. Please refrain from buying the medical grade personal protective gear like the n95 masks and surgical masks. And stop stealing them from medical work sites. You are putting me and my co-workers at risk and you do not need these like we do.
  6. Take care of yourself like you would a toddler. Get plenty of rest. Wash your hands frequently. Cough/sneeze into your elbow.
  7. Stay home if you’re sick.
  8. I expect to be exposed to this virus. I might get it myself. But I will take the same precautions and risks I do every day, like I do when I care for people with strep, influenza, rsv, hiv, hepatitis and lots of other communicable diseases. I go to work knowing the risk. I bring home a level of exposure to my family. We’ve talked about it too. And I’m still going into work. We on the front lines don’t ask for your thanks or special treatment. If you want to thank me for running towards the scary pandemic, thank me by acting responsibly and minimizing my work during this time. Let me care for those who are the sickest of the sick and give them my full attention. This is the medicine I’ve trained to do. (See #4 for what you can do)

And my personal side note…. stock up on OTC cold medications, Advil and Tylenol, cough drops and tissues…. but for the love of all things holy you DO NOT NEED MORE THAN YOUR REGULAR AMOUNT OF TOILET PAPER !

3 thoughts on “An ER Physician Comments On Coronavirus Fears

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