Wear a mask to help control this pandemicBy Veita Bland, M.D. / July 24, 2020
COVID-19 continues to color the glasses in which we look at our world. We are hopeful that the use of masks will be that spark that will help the country control the virus. Unfortunately, not all are complying. As we hear about additional friends, family and celebrities contracting the virus, what else can be done?
First, remember that the quality of the mask is important as is the fit. We have seen that video countless times that shows respiratory droplets emanating from a mannequin simulated cough. This simulation demonstrates that the better the quality of the mask, the better it is at preventing the spread of those droplets from the cough.
Invest in a well-fitted mask. People come in various sizes and builds. Too many times I see masks that are just too small for the wearer. The mask must cover the chin and the nose to be effective.
The mask should also fit well around the nose to prevent gaping in that critical area.
The mask is of upmost importance as part of our frontline in preventing the spread of COVID-19 but we are also learning that some of the particles that can escape from the mask may become airborne. We are learning that the trajectory of these coughs can be up to 30 feet. Well outside of the six feet we are told to space ourselves. We are also learning that these particles may remain aloft for extended periods of time. These facts emphasize the need for a better quality mask with a better fit.
As we turn our attention to treatment of the COVID-19 we are seeing fewer deaths. Just like any medical problem, the more physicians treat a disease the better we get at it. We are learning how to treat this virus to prevent deaths. We are using different methods. We now have a better idea of what to expect and have ways of handling those hospitalized.
What we are seeing though, is a decrease in the age of the patients hospitalized. We are seeing more 20 to 40-year old COVID-19 patients; the ones we thought were relatively healthy. What has not changed though is the fact that we are still seeing patients of African American and Latino ethnicity die more.
We have also seen CDC expand its list of people they consider at high risk of contracting the virus such as pregnant women. They join people with asthma, high blood pressure, liver disease, smokers, obesity and diabetes along with people who have heart disease, kidney disease or have had a stroke to name a few. Please go the CDC website (CDC.gov.) to see the complete list.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, reiterates that we are knee deep in the first wave with resurgences of the infection superimposed on a baseline that really never got down to where we wanted it to go. He is “cautiously optimistic” about the Moderna Pharmaceutical company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
It will take a combination of compliance with washing hands, wearing a mask, social distancing, better treatments and a vaccine to control this pandemic. This will take an all hands-on deck approach. It is despicable that as cases of COVID-19 surge in this country other countries have been able to control cases, re-open their doors and economies. There is no shortcut and to those who feel they do not need to be part of this fight I again ask that if you do not for care to protect yourself, think about protecting others, #Grandma.
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.