A synopsis of where we’re at with COVID-19

March 27, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY LAUREN HANA, MD – The U.S. has had an exponential increase in daily new cases of COVID-19 over the last week, with the last three days averaging 10,000 new cases in the U.S. daily.
As of March 25, the U.S. has the most active cases in the world. The U.S. total cases now trail Italy’s total cases by only 10,000. Florida now has nearly 2,000 cases since the first case was announced on March 1, 2020. Only five states have more cases – Michigan with 2,295, Washington with 2,588, California with 2,998, New Jersey with 4,402 and New York with 33,013 (20,011 cases in New York City alone).
Part of the sharp rise in cases is related to the fact that more testing is being done. It is reported that 46 of Florida’s 67 counties have at least one case of COVID-19.
Multiple states now have “stay at home” orders in place (California, Washington, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Connecticut, Louisiana, Delaware, Oregon, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Hawaii, Idaho, Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico). Virginia, Maryland, Nevada and Kentucky have also closed all non-essential businesses.
Though a blanket “stay at home” order has not been enacted for Florida, several counties and cities in Florida have issued their own “stay at home” orders including Alachua, Leon, Orange, Osceola and Pinellas counties, as well as the cities of Aventura, Gainesville, Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, Miami and Miami Beach. Several other counties are considering the same including Lee and Collier counties. I would urge all of us here to stay home as much as possible.
Governor DeSantis has issued executive orders this week for anyone arriving from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-isolate for 14 days. He clarified the order by saying that this does not mean to stay with family as to expose them, but to SELF isolate. A subsequent executive order clarified this order to say that anyone arriving from New York in the LAST three WEEKS should self-isolate. A third executive order asks that all seniors age 65 and older, and anyone with a severe underlying health condition, should stay at home for 14 days. Today is day three of that order.
The National Guard has been deployed to assist in several states. The $2 trillion relief package promised was passed through the Senate on March 25 and now waits House approval and the president’s signature.
Distilleries are now making hand sanitizer.The 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed to 2021. More than 50 percent of the U.S population will be under “stay at home” orders as of this weekend, and some are making homemade masks and face shields to distribute to healthcare workers, nursing homes and hospitals.
It’s still difficult to get a test in Florida (and most other states as well). There are still CDC guidelines for testing that have been loosened, but are still restrictive. There were drive-through sites for testing that were opened, but many have already closed due to lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) to safely collect specimens and difficulty in returning results.
More tests have been promised but the line is long. Newer testing is coming but requires validation. A faster PCR (nose and throat swab) and blood testing for antibodies are some of the things in the pipeline. Without adequate testing, it is impossible to track and trace COVID-19 cases and exposures and to isolate appropriately in areas of wide spread.
As far as local cases, we have had multiple calls from both residents and visitors alike regarding symptoms compatible with COVID-19, and all have been asked to take precautions and self-isolate, but without testing available we have not had a confirmed case.
If you are sick, presume you have it. Stay at home and ask others to do the same. No one else wants your cold or flu either, even if it’s not COVID-19.
Remember, the recovered case count is also increasing daily. For several days last week, the epicenter in China in Wuhan and Hubei reported no new cases. China’s recovered number is nearly 75,000. Different drugs and treatment with convalescent serum antibodies (a concentrated infusion of antibodies from those recovered from COVID-19) are being given to help the sickest combat the illness. Vaccine development is underway.
Now that most of our community has been ordered to “stay at home,” what can you do? Anxiety and depression are very real and affecting many more in these uncertain times and your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Here are some do’s:

  • Outdoor activity is still allowed and encouraged as long as appropriate social distancing is exercised.
  • Think outside the box and throw a Facetime dinner party. Did you know you can group FaceTime with 31 other people at the same time?
  • Plant a flower, relax, read, pray, scream, organize your junk drawer, meditate, listen, laugh, Facetime with a grandchild and read him/her a bedtime story, call an old friend, call a new friend, run an errand for a neighbor when you run your own, bake cookies (and bring them to the Clinic, thanks S.B!), tell a joke, organize old photos, change your passwords (and write them down!), clean up your email, count your blessings.

Here’s the don’ts:

  • Don’t use alcohol to medicate for sleep, anxiety or depression
  • Don’t just watch the news (take a break with a feel-good movie)
  • Don’t neglect your sleep, exercise and diet
  • Don’t forget to check in on family, friends and neighbors
  • Don’t become “collateral damage.” Be safe when you are exercising and working in your home to avoid other inadvertent injury.

Remember, wash your hands. Stay away from sick people. Stay away from others if you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze. Clean frequently used surfaces daily. Support each other. Do your part.
We can make a difference together.
Dr. Lauren Hana is a physician with the Boca Grande Health Clinic.