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BY DR. ANDREA PURCELL

I recognize the amount of distress that this crisis is causing.  I hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy and following the advice from our health officials. 

This is an incredibly busy time in healthcare and each day my team and I find ourselves at the end wondering where the time went with so much left to write and share.

Is there reason for concern – Yes?  Is there reason for panic – No. 

The difference between the two is information and reason.  I hope the information I have to share provides you with both.

Each day I have been spending quite a bit of time in the emerging research to get a better handle on what we need to plan for moving forward. Things have been happening at such a fast pace with new data emerging each day.

In this update, I wanted to let you know the latest developments and talk a little about epidemics so you see the projections clearly for 2020. There are over 325 clinical trials going on with respect to COVID-19.  The results of these studies will help guide every aspect of how this virus is managed. It is also important to keep in mind that our understanding of this virus is growing and changing daily.

A little bit about Epidemics Disease and History

Epidemics have been around for thousands of years, and the truth is that no matter what, we will always be susceptible to epidemic diseases.

For an epidemic, it really doesn’t matter how or where they start but they will always be a possibility. Disease spreads very quickly with travel. Travel makes things very easy to spread. A sneeze in Asia can end up in NY 12 hours later and set off a whole domino effect.

Epidemics in their own way have altered history. There have been more casualties in armies from epidemics than combat itself.

Epidemics have shaped history and the destiny of nations.

For example, in 1812 Napoleon left France in an attempt to conquer Russia with 600K soldiers, he lost over 200K soldiers from an epidemic of typhoid. One third of his army lost due to a very aggressive epidemic.

With the Spanish flu that premiered from 1918-1920 – 50-100K Americans died from complications of pneumonia which was about .7% of the population.

Hippocrates the father of medicine was one of the first to recognize that environmental factors played a role in Epidemic disease (wind, humidity, famine etc.) These can affect the way a disease plays out in a particular region. Any altered conditions lead to an epidemic, travel, overcrowding situations, lack of cleanliness, high stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, social isolation.

Just a reminder, this is physical distancing NOT Social Distancing. We still need to feel connected and be social, not cut ourselves off from interacting.

As far as infection rate the seasonal flu spreads from one person to about 1.4 others.

COVID-19 spreads from one person to at least 3 other people.

Just like any virus, COVID-19 can spread 3-4 days before symptoms appear. Another reason behind physical distancing.

The mortality rate is 10x higher than the regular flu.

Typical flu mortality rate 0.5%,  COVID19 can have up to a 10% mortality rate. Global mortality for COVID rate 4-5%.

So, when someone with severe sx gets pneumonia that is where the mortality rate sets in.

 It’s easy to feel fearful, the purpose of this is not to build fear but it is to disseminate proper information.

80% will have mild symptoms – fever, cough, fatigue, body aches 

20% will have intense symptoms – developing into pneumonia and respiratory distress and failure. About 1 in 3 of those people will need to be ventilated.

The projections for the US are a 1.5% mortality rate, which evens out to be over 2 million deaths for the year. Most flu’s end with complications of pneumonia. That being the greatest risk

Regarding drugs and treatments…

Anti-virals take about 6 years to be released. There is quite a bit of research that needs to go into those.

It is difficult to create a vaccine for this type of virus. This virus is a bit of a wildcard because of the S-protein coat and the way it binds to healthy cells. earliest projections are 12-18 months. Even then we won’t know how safe or effective it will be.

Where we are with COVID-19 right now…

Physical distancing has worked very well. We have stemmed the tide of infection by staying at home. The peak is expected this week across the nation around April 15th. In Arizona, the peak is April 23rd. That doesn’t mean the virus will be gone it simply means that less people will die after the peak than did each day before the peak.

The decline of the virus will take quite a bit of time and extend out through summer. Heat and temperature may have an impact on that but we cannot count on it. There most likely will be a resurgence in the fall.

When physical distancing bans are released and we go back to our everyday lives our chances of contracting COVID-19 will be quite high. Projections expect most of us to acquire the virus at some point in the next 10-12 months. So, to re-cap, the odds are that most of us will get COVID-19. Like many epidemics that have come before they tend to last between 18-24 months.

The statistics in our country have shown that any person at any age can get COVID but some people are higher risk than others. Let’s take a look at who that is.  And I want to dial in who exactly is high risk for this. Now is the time to get proactive.

  • Age >60yo
  • Renal Disease
  • Diabetes – elevated blood sugar over 125
  • Heart Disease – high blood pressure other heart conditions elevations 130/80
  • Lung Disease – pulmonary conditions
  • Obesity – one in three Americans are overweight BMI >30, abdominal weight gain.

If you are in some of these groups, I feel optimistic that you can cut your risk for complications.

I cannot stress enough that taking charge of your own health is paramount right now. This is the time to hold tightly onto our health. From a naturopathic perspective, the health impacts from infection depend on two things – the first is susceptibility and the second is exposure.  Health promotion is about adopting a healthy lifestyle which contributes to decreased susceptibility.  The one thing that this current crisis has reminded us is the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle. 

Now is our time to shift to resolution. 

There are clear steps you can take.

It is imperative you take them now, and it is necessary to include your loved ones.

  • First line Approach- Limit Exposure – Keep doing what you are doing. personal hygiene, physical distancing
  • Second line Approach – Limit susceptibility to avoid complications – Think through some of these for yourself and your family.
  • Self-care. The more you can stabilize your blood sugar, minimize blood pressure, and reduce BMI the better off you will be. Improve on these to reduce your chances of developing serious complications.
  • Skill-up habits and social circles. Make a big shift in the risk factors and make it a family plan. Set a goal for this year to get fit. Reduce stress, sleep more, exercise, eat better, get healthy friends.
  • The importance of food when supporting health cannot be overstated. Increase foods high in oxygen and nutrients, which includes fruits and vegetables. Dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of oxygen.  Fruits and vegetables also have the vitamins and minerals needed to support healthy blood formation.  Reducing alcohol, sugar and refined foods is a good idea.
  • Stay hydrated.  Water carries oxygen to the cells. Increasing the intake of healthy fluids (water, green drinks, vegetable juices) may be beneficial.
  • Regular exercise.  Take the time to exercise every day.  Walking is ideal. Focus on exercises that support cardiovascular system. 
  • Sleep – Good quality sleep
  • Spend time outside – On a nice day, go for a gentle walk outside.  Spending time in nature is beneficial to the immune system
  • Manage stress – Practice deep breathing, relaxation, meditation and other exercises focused on stress reduction.

Together, I believe we are going to RISE UP and not only make it through this moment, but lead the way for others to do the same!

Above everything else I want you to know I care about you and want to help you succeed no matter what’s happening in the world.

Sometimes it’s easy to question how much you matter. You DO matter. You matter because someone or something is counting on you.

There is no time to waste.

Take good care of yourself.

Until next time, I wish you well,

Dr. Purcell
(Catch up on my daily COVID-19 posts HERE)

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