March 3, 2020

Report from a Covid 19 zone
Today was quieter in the clinic- more cancellations, but lots of phone calls and My Chart messages, people are worried. We are learning more daily about the virus, how sick it makes people, when to worry about individuals, when to see them, when to have them stay home. It is beginning to look like the virus has been spreading for a while here in Washington State and the strict criteria the CDC was using for testing has missed cases, due to not being tested. But it also looks like the virus is much less contagious than some other viruses like measles. Early data shows casual contacts have lower rates of infection, household contacts higher rates, which may explain why we haven't been overwhelmed with infections yet. That means standing near someone in the store or walking by them on the street is probably safe. Standing at least 3 feet away decreases risk when talking with someone. But the biggest frustration is access to testing. The state can only test about 200 a day- a drop in the bucket. UW is making a test available but they also have limited capacity and they charge $200 a test- lots of money for most folks. The good news is that 80% of people have mild disease, the ones that get sicker do so after 5-7 days,so keep that in mind if you have a flu like illness. Also this virus acts like the flu with fevers and coughs, and at this point the flu is still most likely at this time of year. Our health department is doing the best they can with the limited resources available, but I really wish we had more testing available. Again, wash your hands, just try not to touch your face (maybe you can do that better than I can) Stay safe.
Oh, and if you have a cough, a fever, and think you have it, that is when you wear a mask, to decrease giving it to others