HealthStacy M. Brown

ER Nurse on Coronavirus Panic: ‘People Need to Keep Their Heads’

One of the biggest problems with the coronavirus is that many don’t understand science, says James Cobb, an Emergency Department registered nurse who publishes The Dream Recovery System, a blog about sleep and the benefits of dream journaling.

“It’s unfortunate. The novel coronavirus is a serious matter but it shouldn’t cause panic and hoarding among generally healthy people,” noted Cobb.

As a class, coronaviruses are one of the microbes responsible for the common cold, medical experts have said.
“When affecting someone, the symptoms look the same as a cold and most people who have contracted the novel coronavirus get a fever and cough,” Cobb said.

“Some can be short of breath. While the virus can be deadly for the immunocompromised and the elderly in the way the flu can, amazingly, few of the victims are children. It’s not understood why, at this time.”

The illness, which presents symptoms that include coughing, trouble breathing and fever, is believed to have the most traumatic effect on the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Chinese doctors have said people who recover from COVID-19 might still suffer as much as a 30 percent decrease in lung functions.

Per the website worldometers.info, which keeps a running count, coronavirus cases have topped 139,000 worldwide.

More than 5,100 deaths have been reported, while approximately 71,000 people have recovered.

As of the deadline for this article, there were 2,952 cases in 49 United States, and more people have died (57) than have recovered (12).

The virus has called to mind other health crises.

In the spring of 2009, novel influenza — H1N1 — emerged.

It was detected first in the U.S. and spread quickly. The Obama administration tested 1 million people for H1N1 in the first month after the first diagnosed case.

The first U.S. coronavirus case was nearly two months ago, yet under the Trump administration, less than 10,000 people have received tests.

From April 12, 2009, to April 10, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control estimated there were 60.8 million cases of H1N1, 274,304 hospitalizations and 12,469 deaths in the U.S.

“People seem to be thinking of pictures of the 1918 Spanish Flu. They’re thinking of bodies stacked in piles, hauled off in carts,” Cobb said.

“That’s not likely. For most people, they’re going to feel terrible. They’re going to need to rest and stay at home. The far majority of them are going to recover, however.”

Symptomatic people should wear masks to avoid coughing on others. The masks won’t protect healthy people because they don’t completely filter the air, Cobb added.

“Hand sanitizer you use should be at least 60 percent alcohol. The straight 90 percent alcohol won’t be as effective because it causes the proteins that make up these viruses to coagulate and may evaporate too fast to work,” he said.

“If stores run out of hand sanitizer, and you want to make your own, you need to get the concentration up to 60 percent isopropyl alcohol.”

Cobb continued: “If someone is back from a virus-stricken area and after two weeks they still haven’t shown any symptoms of being sick, they’re not infectious. Shunning people who go to help in these virus-stricken areas is common.”

“It happened during the Ebola epidemic a few years ago. It can affect anyone of any race, too. If Asians haven’t been to a virus-stricken area like South Korea or China, there’s no reason to suspect they’d be carriers.”

“If they have, and they’ve been back for more than two weeks, and there’s no symptoms yet, then there’s no special reasons to think they’d be carriers either. People need to keep their heads,” he said.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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