May 4, 2020

Plague and Pestilence

The buzz at my clinic today was not about the re-opening of some services or the new video visits we have been doing, or even the number of patients asking for COVID-19 antibody tests. Not even the new higher projections of infections and deaths in the US phased us. None of those things commanded our attention. We were consumed with the prospect of “murder hornets”, a new plague upon the land. They have arrived in a city near here and we all are now afraid to go outside. And worried even more for the bees.

I exaggerate our response, but only just a little. Really, murder hornets? Sigh, one more thing to worry about. But at least the air is clearer, Mount Rainier has never looked closer.

The other news we got today is that the CDC updated recommendations for when to end isolation of patients with COVID-19. They recommend 10 days of isolation after symptoms begin. They have updated data that reassuringly shows infectious virus in secretions is gone by 9 days, after symptoms start in someone infected. Even though viral RNA was found later, it was not viable. This is helpful and reassuring to know.

They also are recommending contact tracing and isolation to help contain the spread. These are tried and true methods of epidemiologists for decades. Many states are gearing up to do more of this. Washington State’s Department of Health is actually contacting our patients with positive tests before we even receive the results from the commercial lab! Contact tracing will become harder as more states open up and more people rebel against the recommendations. But it still may have an impact, although infections will continue to rise and hot spots will spring up.

The best we all can do is to continue social distancing and protect ourselves with hand washing and masks. Especially those of us who are older, or have risks, or have loved ones we do not wish to expose. We have done it for close to 2 months very well. We can do it for longer, with each other’s help and support. I want us all to get to the other side.

And watch out for those murder hornets. Wash your hands and cover your nose!

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.