5 things you need to know to protect yourself, your family, and your community until we finally get COVID-19 beat.
As cases start to rise again after our initial efforts to flatten the curve, you are either ready to throw up your hands, wondering what’s next, or are resigned to staying home for awhile.
“Plan A, don’t go in a crowd. Plan B, if you do, make sure you wear a mask.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci
But what if you do have to go out?
5 Things You Need to Know About COVID-19
While a lot of folks are making mistakes, it’s certainly not time to throw in the towel.
“It is important to remember that anyone who has close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after exposure based on the time it takes to develop illness.”
When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19
Here are 5 things you need to know to protect yourself, your family, and your community until we finally get COVID-19 beat.
While people probably aren’t contagious if they don’t have symptoms, they can be contagious in the days just before they develop symptoms. Unfortunately, you don’t know when that might be, which is why it is important to self-quarantine after you have been exposed (or think that you might have been exposed) for a full incubation period.
Understand that SARS-CoV-2 is typically spread through close contact with someone who is infected (again, this is also in the days before they show symptoms). That means you can likely avoid getting sick if you practice social distancing (stay 6 feet away from other people), wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face, etc. To protect others, you should also cover your coughs and sneezes and wear a mask.
Cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies are likely affecting how you are viewing information and advice about COVID-19.
Early on, it was easy to understand why there was so much confusion about COVID-19, after all, it took some time before we even got a real name for the new or novel virus that is causing this pandemic.
While there is still a lot more research to do, we have already learned a lot about the best ways to help prevent and treat COVID-19 infections.
Too many people don’t seem to understand that though…
Why There is Still So Much COVID-19 Confusion
Many people also don’t understand that advice and recommendations often shift and change as we get new information.
“It is irrational to hold any view so tightly that you aren’t willing to admit the possibility that you might be wrong.”
What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?
And of course, you have to expect that to happen when you are dealing with a brand new disease!
So what are people confused about?
Everything from the effectiveness of face masks to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (they do) to whether our COVID-19 death counts have been inflated (we are probably seeing under-counts).
“Compared with other Americans, adults who “often” use social media to get news about COVID-19 report higher levels of exposure to the conspiracy theory that the pandemic was intentionally planned.”
Three Months In, Many Americans See Exaggeration, Conspiracy Theories and Partisanship in COVID-19 News
Where are they getting their information???
I’m guessing it isn’t from experts…
Who to Trust About COVID-19
Adding to a lot of the confusion we are dealing with are folks pushing misinformation.
As you learn who to trust for information about COVID-19, you will hopefully develop the skills you need to be more skeptical about all of the things you see and read.
“Although my main message is that awareness of cognitive biases can lead to more effective messages and measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, where cognitive bias is regarded as harmful, it may be helpful to take steps to reduce such bias. Education and awareness of cognitive biases are key, so that individuals and organisations question flawed or traditional thinking habits and try to promote evidence based thinking. At an individual level, the additional advice is to slow down in your thinking, pause and reflect, and seek external views.”
Covid-19 and cognitive bias
And you will hopefully turn to sources that many of us use, including:
Don’t let them get in your way of following the advice from the experts that could protect you and your family from getting and spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What does that mean?
Well, if you don’t think anyone should tell you to wear a mask, then you will likely look for information and advice that says masks don’t work and aren’t necessary (confirmation bias).
You will also likely not believe any information and advice that says COVID-19 is deadly.
Well, if you believed it was deadly, then you would work to avoid it and try to keep those around you safe, including doing things like wearing a mask. Instead, cognitive dissonance, the anxiety you get from believing in two things that contradict each other, will push you towards believing things that reinforce your idea that you don’t have to wear a mask.
What to Know About COVID-19 Confusion
Tired of being confused about COVID-19 and other things?
“It’s sobering to note all the ways in which human brains distort decision processes; perhaps it’s a wonder that any good decision is ever made.”
How to Make Better Decisions About Coronavirus
Be more skeptical and look for new sources of information and advice and understand how cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies affect our decision making.
Don’t be confused by fake COVID-19 experts pushing their own agendas that are opposite the guidance of the real experts.
Why are you still confused about who you should listen to for advice about COVID-19 and who the real experts are?
The usual suspects…
Who Are the Real COVID-19 Experts?
Consider that in Texas, where COVID-19 cases are once again surging, Texas Senator Bob Hall is telling folks that they should no longer be afraid and is touting his very own COVID-19 “experts,” including:
Dennis Spence DDS, MD – an oral surgeon
Robin Armstrong, MD – an internal medicine doctor, he gave hydroxychloroquine to dozens of elderly patients in nursing homes without informed consent in his own “observational study.”
Brian C. Procter, MD – a family medicine doctor who has become one of Collin County’s leading Botox and Juvederm providers, and has made claims about successfully treating COVID-19 patients using “hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, losartan, aspirin, zinc, and CBD [Cannabidiol oil] as an anti-inflammatory.” Proctor has also come out against wearing masks!
Richard P. Bartlett, MD – a family practice doctor, he is pushing the idea that budesonide, an inhaled steroid, is a silver bullet cure for COVID-19. Of course, that wouldn’t explain why people with asthma, who already take these drugs daily, die with COVID-19…
You certainly shouldn’t be listening to politicians touting so-called experts pushing unproven and dangerous cures and treatments, as they have one goal – to make you think the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t that bad…
But how do you explain their “success” they are having with their COVID-19 patients?
“The overall cumulative hospitalization rate was 107.2 per 100,000 population. Among the 0-4 years, 5-17 years, 18-49 years, 50-64 years, and ≥ 65 years age groups, the highest rate of hospitalization is among adults aged ≥ 65, followed by adults aged 50-64 years and adults aged 18-49 years.”
COVIDView Weekly Summary
And misses the fact that most folks don’t end up in the hospital when they have COVID-19…
They also do a lot of cherry picking, ignoring any studies or evidence that show what they are doing might not be right.
“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, with or without azithromycin or clarithromycin, offer no benefit in treating patients with COVID-19 and, instead, are associated with ventricular arrhythmias and higher rates of mortality, according to a major new international study.”
More Evidence Hydroxychloroquine Is Ineffective, Harmful in COVID-19
Wearing a face mask is safe and may help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Why do some people still think they shouldn’t wear a mask to help control the COVID-19 pandemic?
The usual suspects…
Confusion About Face Masks and COVID-19
Much of the confusion about face masks stems from the fact the initial guidance from the WHO and CDC said that wearing a mask wasn’t necessary for everyone.
“Wearing medical masks when not indicated may cause unnecessary cost, procurement burden and create a false sense of security that can lead to neglecting other essential measures such as hand hygiene practices. Furthermore, using a mask incorrectly may hamper its effectiveness to reduce the risk of transmission.”
Advice on the use of masks in the community, during home care and in health care settings in the context of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak – WHO Interim guidance January 2020
If you are going to wear your mask under your chin or with your nose or mouth exposed and think you are protected and not social distance, then wearing a mask might actually get more people sick. With little information that masks were helpful, this fear that they would create a false sense of security likely influenced initial guidance.
Experts were likely also concerned about a limited supply of medical masks at the time.
Of course, as we have gotten more information about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how it spreads, that guidance about face masks changed.
“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 (April 2020)
We know that the best way to avoid getting COVID-19, at least until we get a vaccine, is going to be trying make sure you are never exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In addition to social distancing and washing your hands, wearing a face mask correctly will help to decrease your risk of exposing others. And if those around you are wearing a face mask, then they won’t expose you!
What to Know About Face Masks and COVID-19
But what about the idea that the pore size of the masks are too big to stop the small size of the SARS-CoV-2 virus?
The thing is, the SARS-CoV-2 virus, while it is very small, isn’t just floating around in the air by itself! It gets carried in and on larger respiratory droplets.
And if the mask blocks those respiratory droplets, then it should keep you from exposing others to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What about the claim that face masks cause folks to breath their own carbon dioxide, even leading to breathing problems?
On the one hand, they are worried that the pore size of face masks won’t block out the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is about 0.1 μm in diameter.
But then they think these very same face masks will block carbon dioxide? How big are carbon dioxide molecules???
They are about 1000 times smaller than the SARS-CoV-2 virus…
So a face mask is not going to affect your ability to breath well.
Who Should Not Wear a Face Mask
Not surprisingly, a face mask is even recommended for folks with asthma, as long as their asthma is well controlled.
“There is no evidence that wearing a face mask makes asthma worse.”
AAAI Recommendations on the use of face masks to reduce COVID-19 transmission
Infants and toddlers under age two years can skip wearing a face mask because of the risk of suffocation, as can “anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
If you have “trouble breathing” though, you likely have a severe respiratory condition and you aren’t simply someone who doesn’t want to wear a mask.
And there are no face mask exemptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Are you ready to put on a mask now?
Since we are seeing higher rates of COVID-19 in states that don’t have mask mandates, the only confusion should be over why anyone still won’t wear a mask when they are around other people.
Paul Thomas doesn’t think parents should be concerned because he thinks only one in a billion children are dying of COVID-19.
Why do some people think that only one in a billion children are dying of COVID-19?
The usual suspects…
Are One in a Billion Children Dying of COVID-19?
In his video about face masks and face shields, Paul Thomas describes a study about pediatric patients with COVID-19.
“We identified 131 studies across 26 countries comprising 7780 pediatric patients.”
Hoang et al on COVID-19 in 7780 pediatric patients: A systematic review
What did they find?
They found that most of the kids in the study with COVID-19 recovered and had “overall excellent prognosis.”
“Seven deaths were reported (0·09%) and 11 children (0·14%) met inclusion for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.”
Hoang et al on COVID-19 in 7780 pediatric patients: A systematic review
Most, but not all…
“They looked at 131 studies that included over 7000 children from 26 different countries. There were only seven deaths out of the 6.4 million cases of COVID-19. Understand, that’s about one in a billion if you look at the world population. One in a billion children dying of COVID. Oh my gosh! No! You don’t need to be afraid for your child.”
Paul Thomas on FACE MASKS & FACE SHIELDS: Should We Wear Them?
One in a billion?
Even if you don’t know anything about statistics or epidemiology and haven’t looked at the study, you can guess that it wasn’t saying that only one in a billion children are dying of COVID-19!
Instead, most people will quickly see that there were seven deaths among 7,780 pediatric patients.
So among the children who got COVID-19, a relatively high percentage, at nearly 0.1%, died.
If only one in a billion children were truly dying of COVID-19, then only one child would have died! While the world population has indeed reached nearly eight billion people, keep in mind that they aren’t all children!
Anyway, so far, there have been over 70 pediatric COVID-19 deaths in the United States alone. So much for one in a billion children dying of COVID…
Should you be afraid for your child?
Are you getting advice about COVID-19 from Paul Thomas???
We are more than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic and we are still talking about hydroxychloroquine, a dangerous treatment that doesn’t work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage throughout the world, we don’t have a vaccine, there are few treatments and no cure, and as some still refuse to wear masks in public or social distance, there are still those think that hydroxychloroquine works.
Can you guess why?
Why Do Some People Still Think Hydroxychloroquine Works for COVID-19?
Sure, it’s not complicated…
There are plenty of people pushing for the continued use of hydroxycloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, even though many experts were skeptical from the beginning and there are new warnings from the FDA.
“Based on its ongoing analysis of the EUA and emerging scientific data, the FDA determined that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are unlikely to be effective in treating COVID-19 for the authorized uses in the EUA. Additionally, in light of ongoing serious cardiac adverse events and other potential serious side effects, the known and potential benefits of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine no longer outweigh the known and potential risks for the authorized use.”
FDA cautions against use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine for COVID-19 outside of the hospital setting or a clinical trial due to risk of heart rhythm problems
But how do these folks convince anyone to listen to them?
Mostly it is because people want to believe that there is a treatment, especially when the alternative is doing nothing.
They want to believe, even though that false hope for an effective treatment puts them at risk of dangerous side effects.
An extra risk without any benefits, as hydroxycholorquine doesn’t actually work as a COVID-19 treatment.
“We know that every single good study – and by good study I mean randomised control study in which the data are firm and believable – has shown that hydroxychloroquine is not effective in the treatment of Covid-19.”
Anthony Fauci on Coronavirus: Hydroxychloroquine ineffective says Fauci
Again, then, why do so many people think that hydroxychloroquine and these other protocols actually work?
In addition to some poorly done studies that say it works, it is mostly because of the anecdotal data and testimonials they are hearing from the doctors who have appointed themselves experts on treating COVID-19.
For example, is the fact that there are no deaths and only one hospitalization on this list of COVID STATS from the McKinney Family Medicine a good reason to take hydroxychloroquine?
“The overall cumulative hospitalization rate is 120.9 per 100,000 population.”
COVIDView Weekly Summary
Of course not, especially when you consider that you likely wouldn’t expect any hospitalizations or deaths when you only have 271 COVID-19 patients.
Wait, why is that?
With a hospitalization rate of 120 per 100,000 cases, you can expect one person to be hospitalized for every 1,000 cases!
Of course, that rate is higher in groups with higher risk factors, but even if all of the patients at McKinney Family Medicine were older and had some risk factors, it is doubtful that you would expect more than one hospitalization.
“Mild to moderate (mild symptoms up to mild pneumonia): 81%”
Interim Clinical Guidance for Management of Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Remember, most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and recover without any specific treatments.
To get answers as quickly as possible, researchers and health care providers have created COVID-19 registries that cover everything from asthma and diabetes to pregnancy and pulmonary embolism.
Since COVID-19 is truly a novel disease, we continue to look for answers about how to best treat our patients who are getting sick.
And to get those answers as quickly as possible, researchers and health care providers have created COVID-19 registries that cover everything from asthma and diabetes to pregnancy and pulmonary embolism.
COVID-19 Registry List
Not surprisingly, there is a COVID-19 registry to cover just about every aspect of this new disease.
COVID-19 Anosmia Reporting Tool – allows healthcare providers of all specialties and patients worldwide to submit data to confidentially report on anosmia and dysgeusia related to COVID-19
COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium – a consortium of over 120 cancer centers and other organizations who have come together to collect data about adult patients with cancer who have been diagnosed with COVID-19
COVID-19 Registry – a research study that provides real-time information on the spread of COVID-19, who is being affected, and how.
COVID-19 Registry for Hematology – captures data on individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and have a hematologic condition (past or present) and/or have experienced a post-COVID-19 hematologic complication
COVID-19 Research Registry – this registry includes top-ranked, COVID-19 research articles curated by experts and serves as a resource for scientists working together to address fundamental science and accelerate scientific research on SARS-CoV-2
USA Pediatric Covid-19 Registry – a survey to capture epidemiologic and clinical information about ALL cases of pediatric COVID-19 infections in the United States
The results from these registries will hopefully help us come up with better COVID-19 treatment protocols and answer some very important questions, such as whether or not SARS-CoV-2 truly is triggering new cases of type 1 diabetes and why some people have lingering symptoms.