I hope each of you made it through the week okay and are settling into the new routine of social isolation. I’m going to give you a couple of updates in this email based on some patient’s questions I’ve received and also attach a very helpful, thorough lists of activities to do to help with the isolation.

  • Question 1: Should I go to work? Is it safe?  Until there is a lock down imposed or a “shelter in place” order, those that aren’t showing any symptoms or have a confirmed direct exposure to someone with a positive COVID-19 test, should go to work. You could talk to your boss about your concerns and see if they are understanding. If you are showing symptoms and/or have another reason that you need to miss work, let me know, and I can write a work note for you. I can’t necessarily make your company/boss accept it, but I can be the best advocate as possible.

There is talk of Mecklenburg County imposing a “shelter in place” order which would just be stay at home and only leave for essential reasons such as food or medications (what many of you are doing already).

  • Question 2: What if I was sick, but not with coronavirus and need to return to work? The criteria that the CDC has set for returning to work are as follows: 1. Fever free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medications such as Tylenol or Motrin. AND 2. Symptom free from any respiratory symptoms including resolution of a cough. AND 3. It has been at least 7 days from the first appearance of symptoms. Meeting these criteria, the CDC advises that people resume normal activities.
  • Question 3: I’m hearing a lot about face masks? What should I know? Wearing a face mask is not a guarantee that you won’t get sick. Virus can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. If you are going to be in close contact with someone who is, or may be infected, a mask will lessen the chance of the disease being passed on. If you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others. However, masks will not make a huge difference if you are healthy, just traveling to the grocery store. Health care workers who are considered high risk are trying to secure N95 masks which the COVID-19 can’t penetrate. This is currently a national shortage. If you have any of these type masks at home or from work, a donation to your nearest healthcare facility would be greatly appreciated!
  • Question 4: What are the symptoms of COVID-19 again? COVID-19 usually causes a dry cough (not coughing up phlegm/mucus), low grade to high fever, and overwhelming fatigue. There is sometimes some stomach upset with associated diarrhea. Shortness of breath is a hallmark of coronavirus and the lack of oxygen from how the virus affects the lungs can cause a bad headache. COVID-19 has also been known to cause lack of smell and taste which distinguishes it from other viruses. Remember, allergies and sniffles are very common this time of year as Spring is here and pollen is in the air. A runny nose is not usually seen in COVID-19, nor is sneezing. If you have any questions about your symptoms, feel free to text or call me and we’ll talk through it.
  • Question 5: I’m hearing that there is more availability of tests; can I get a test if I have symptoms now? Hard to say, as there is still a shortage of tests and PPE (personal protective equipment). Ideally, we would like to be able to swab mostly asymptomatic people so we can find the infected people early and isolate them before the virus spreads. This is how Hong Kong and Japan have kept their numbers infected low. They are testing most of the population and therefore able to contain the virus better. The guidelines are still strict for testing, but have loosened up some. I still recommend you CALL AHEADand use the numbers from the last email or text me if you are thinking about getting tested.

As of yesterday North Carolina has 137 people that have tested positive for COVID-19. There was a person in Wake County that tested positive that attended The Millennium Tour 2020 at PNC Arena on March 13. The individual had floor seats in Section 5 but moved throughout the crowd. If you were at that event and are showing symptoms we would need to contact the Wake County health department.

Finally, you may have seen on the news or social media that hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can either treat or prevent you from getting COVID-19. Plaquenil has been used to treat malaria in the past and is currently used by some patients for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus among other diagnoses. It has an extensive list of side effects and at the doses it is being used to treat COVID-19 could cause heart problems. You would need to be on a heart monitor or having a doctor monitoring your heart when taking it at the high doses. Plaquenil could interfere with the sensitivity of the COVID-19 test and we wouldn’t be able to tell if you had the virus if you were taking it. It’s effectiveness at a lower dose for prophylactic use (prevent from catching virus) has not yet been established. Most important, you don’t want to contribute to a potential shortage but let the drug be available to those who need it most. If this changes, I will let you know. This is still an evolving situation.

Now for the fun stuff J Attached is a list of Home Activities that is very thorough that gives you links to sites for crafting, virtual classes, tours, dancing, and apps for kids and adults, etc. that will help you with all the time that you have at home. Let me know if you have any favorites as I am going stir crazy as well!

Also, if your friends or neighbors need it, I’m offering one time telemedicine with audio and visual visits for $50 to help patients with sick symptoms that don’t want to risk exposure by going to an Urgent Care or ER. They would just enroll for telemedicine on the melissajonesdo.com website. Any Priority Care members have unlimited access to me for visits, texting, etc. still.

Hang in there and reach out if you need me!