As we evolve in this process, there has been a lot more emotion. This is completely understandable. However, being in medicine, I check emotion with information. That is why I enjoy doing these Facebook Lives each week to provide you with information so you feel as though you have more control, and that the data and information is understood.
Let’s discuss a few things:
To lessen this tragedy, we were focused on lessening the number of people who got sick, and we practiced social distancing and staying at home. These practices worked because this is a virus that is spread through droplets. Social distancing includes practices including not shaking hands, not hugging, and staying in small groups.
As the information evolved, we learned that wearing a mask is a much better approach to prevent others from coming in contact with droplets that are spread through talking, sneezing, spitting, etc. Wearing a mask is far more effective than staying 6 feet apart.
This is how we get back to working: we still have to practice not shaking hands, hugging, etc. This is the best science we have to prevent the spread of the virus.
What we are learning about this virus is it has a lot to do with oxygen. Many of those with low oxygen levels are still stable, which is different from most other oxygen related illnesses. High pressure oxygen is making a difference in COVID patients because the virus is similar to Altitude Disease in that patients are able to expel carbon dioxide, but are having trouble breathing in oxygen.
Those who have recovered from COVID are found to have an “immune army” in their plasma, having red blood cells that are able to carry oxygen through the body. If you have that plasma and are able to give it to someone who is sick, in most cases that person is able to get better.
Why is this plasma so hard to get?
There are strict criteria for individuals to be able to donate this plasma.
You must have tested positive for COVID, and recovered for a period of time (14 days). Then, you must have a negative test afterwards. We have posted this on the website. The Red Cross has had 2,700 people volunteer to donate plasma, but not all of them qualify based on this criteria. We will put up an article about convalescent plasma that the Red Cross sent me as well.
On Reconvened Session:
We got everything done in one day.
A few updates on a number of things we’ve previously discussed on Facebook Live:
We did confirm that the May election will not be moved to November. When the election was initially moved to November by the Governor, that negated all of the absentee ballots that had already been sent in. There was a real chance that many people who thought they had voted had not been counted, and that would have been a mess. Now, we are going to have to come up with a solution that will allow us to count those ballots, but move the election to using a process that will be safe and effective, and that will work to ensure that the election goes forward.
There are a number of machines that are essentially untaxed gambling machines in Virginia, and we had moved in session to have those machines done away with. The Governor proposed leaving those machines in place for one more year and to regulate and tax them highly, and use that revenue for COVID response measures. We did support and pass that.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management placed an order for 200,000 swabs. We are working on an answer on that, but they are expecting that we will get them.
What data is the Governor relying on to make the decisions that he is making to continue the lockdown we are under when we have flattened the curve?
I don’t know exactly what the Governor is using. I have heard him speak about the data out of Washington state. By that data, today is the peak day for cases in Virginia. As that data has been tracked, it has been quite accurate. He has also been tracking the UVA data. I am sure he has access to more data than we do in the public. The other thing he is looking at are the federal regulations for reopening. They do have gateways to meet. All this information is available on my website under the “COVID Resources” tab at Dunnavantdelivers.com. We have to be showing a decline in the incidence of cases. We need to be on a downstroke for deaths, and we are not there yet.
With the new findings the scientists shared (the announcement yesterday about warmer temperatures and humidity killing the virus sooner), will this make a difference?
Answer: The early evidence is that there should be less virus living on surfaces for longer periods of time. As the heat and humidity get higher, this is better for us in the summer. However, these studies have not undergone all of the appropriate reviews. This is not definite data, but it is promising.
Why are there so many deaths for whom the age of the individual hasn’t been reported (in the Department of Health data)?
For 69 individuals, age has not been reported. I can only assume this date is procured from different sources, and health data is very highly protected, and in some cases health data is incomplete in an effort to protect this information. Looking at patterns, the deaths are predominantly in the elderly population, and those with chronic disease. I will put this information on my website for you to see.
What about the Governor moving the date for elective procedures until May 1 to preserve PPE?
I know a lot of patients are suffering. For anyone who is concerned about whether their surgery will happen, if the procedure affects the health and safety of the patient, those elective surgeries can be done now. That is up to the discretion of your doctor. If you’re unsure, have a conversation with your doctor about whether you fit the criteria to have your surgery before May 1.
Do you have any inkling about whether the June 10th date will be changed sooner or later?
I don’t know. We have to make sure to protect people’s livelihoods and the economy. We are on a path now, and we are getting more data to figure out how we can change that path. We need to get to a place where there are fewer deaths, and we need to start hypothesizing about how we will manage fewer deaths, but I don’t know when that date will be.
VHHA and the Governor seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to allowing hospitals to manage their cases and admissions. Is there any sound reasoning as to why medical professionals aren’t permitted to make the best patient care decisions for their facilities?
Decision making in the political realm is often based on the input of a lot of different people with strong opinions that are often counter to each other. The VHHA has done a remarkable job advocating for the health and safety of Virginians, and for shutting down hospitals and making sure they have supplies. However, the hospitals are empty, and that is great. Yet, this is hard on patients and hospitals. If we have the supply chain in place, they are going to start advocating now for the soonest possible date to open up hospitals and provide general care.
If you have an emergency that is not COVID related, you should still go to the emergency room. The hospital will take care of you and keep you away from COVID patients. Don’t stay home if you have an emergency!
Does it seem necessary for the stay at home order to be extended in Virginia?
Answer: I don’t think it needs to be extended beyond June 10th. I think it may be abbreviated. We have to hit some benchmarks in order to make the decision to start opening up.
What is the Governor planning to do when the second wave hits? Is he planning on sending us all back inside shortly after June 10th?
There is a debate over whether there will be a second wave. There may be a significant lull over the summer. The UVA data suggests there may be a slow burn after the spike.
When can I get together with grandchildren?
If you’re elderly, you need to stay really safe. Right now, we need to stay home. If you’re meeting fewer than 10 people and you’re wearing masks, you need to have that conversation with your family, look at the data, and make a decision for yourself.
Do you have any information on patients with Lupus and COVID?
I don’t, but patients on Lupus are often taking hydroxychloroquine, but we don’t know if there is any preventative value, but it does have some treatment value. We will have to look more into that afterwards.
If I have Lupus and I am on hydroxychloroquine, will that prevent me from contracting COVID?
We have no evidence to support that. Right now, there is more interest in treatment than advantageous prevention. We don’t have any evidence so don’t bank on that.
If you’ve had HELLP syndrome with high blood pressure but it has been resolved, are you still in a COVID high risk category?
Answer: If you’ve had HELLP syndrome and it’s resolved, even with pregnant women, we’ve had no undue increased acuity because someone is pregnant as opposed to not pregnant. We are being very cautious, right now age seems to be more important than pregnancy.
Are you optimistic about the UK vaccine trial?
We have lots of vaccine trials going on right now. There is the UK trial, there is also one in Portland, and I understand there are 5 or more trials right now. I am optimistic, I believe the FDA will move up the schedule to make sure testing is done. I am optimistic we will have a vaccine much sooner than it usually takes.
Many people want to help, and being separated, that is often difficult. One thing we have put on Facebook is to help with food insecurity. There is a food bank at the convention center and many different regions are combining their buying power to make sure there is food. Churches are utilizing their food banks. I suggest helping out your local church, and other organizations are helping out. I recently posted about Love Your Neighbor and Adopt Your Block. You can go check on your neighbors, and look at that program to help bring food to neighbors.
We have posted on the website about plasma donation through the Red Cross in case you can be a donor.
That’s all for today, be sure to keep sending in questions.