Cold weather may lead to combo of COVID-19 and influenzaBy Veita Bland, M.D. / October 16, 2020
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Here we go again, I am amazed and shocked that there have been more than 208,000 deaths in this country due to COVID-19. The numbers still dumbfound me as I think about the people we have lost this year due to this pandemic. Even as we enter fall and winter, the fact remains that there is no quick end to this global health crisis.
Health experts have indicated that we can decrease our incidence of COVID-19 by washing our hands often, practice social distancing and wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is not a political statement but rather a statement of caring for others and yourself. People are also increasingly fatigued by their social isolation and they are beginning to move about more. Such movement will likely contribute to more COVID-19 cases. It baffles me that some people can be fatigued by isolation yet apparently comfortable with increasingly more deaths.
The reopening of businesses for indoor services such as the restaurants, eateries, gyms and bars has unfortunately created the perfect environment where asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers can infect other people. Some of those infected people will be more vulnerable to the disease due to having health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, obesity, and being elderly. Other asymptomatic people will take the virus home to their vulnerable relatives.
There is no crystal ball that can tell us the severity of this year’s cold and flu season. We know there will be deaths due to flu as there have been in years past. This year is different because now we are fighting a dual enemy— the flu and COVID-19. Additionally, only a small percentage of people in the U.S. receive a flu shot annually. Our country’s low immunization compliance is often due to fear, an unwarranted suspicion of vaccines or simply a dislike of inoculations.
Health care providers, public health practitioners, epidemiologists and scientists around the world are actively informing the public that there is nothing normal about this year’s cold and flu season as long as the COVID-19 remains in our midst. It is imperative that everyone get a flu vaccination. This vaccine will certainly impact and decrease the number of deaths and the suffering that comes from the flu.
As we transition to seasons with cooler temperatures, it is important that we consider the quality of the air we breathe at home. Many central air systems contain filters which help purify the air we breathe indoors. Make sure regular maintenance and filters are changed on your home HVAC system. Consider purchasing portable air purifiers for rooms where your family gathers regularly. Rooms to consider would be the family room, the dining room and the kitchen.
As we anticipate this surge in the flu and COVID-19, take time to consider what you can do to mitigate your situation. You are not completely helpless. Remember to wash your hands often, socially distance (6ft. or greater) and mask up. Your actions could save the lives of others as well as yourself.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.