Temple public health experts discuss COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Hello I’m Laura Siminoff and the Dean
of Temple University’s College of Public Health and COVID-19 partly known
as the Coronavirus is causing a lot of confusion and widespread anxiety. So what
we would like to do in this series of videos is to provide you with some basic
information about the virus and then some practical information about how you
can protect yourself, your family, and your community. So right now I have a
group of experts from the Temple University College of Public Health that
can speak to this issue and answer some really common questions so I have here
Heather Murphy, she’s an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Epidemiology and Biostatistics and she brings over 15 years of international
experience in water sanitation and hygiene.
Graciela Jaschek is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Epidemiology and Biostatistics she has over 25 years of experience in
infectious diseases global health, health planning, and evaluation and management
of community programs. Sarah Bass is an Associate Professor in the Department of
Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her expertise is in health communication and
risk and crisis communication and for over 25 years she’s worked on
communication responses for a variety of public health issues including Avian flu,
smallpox vaccination, and HIV. Last but not least is Krys Johnson, she’s an
Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and she
was an Emerging Infectious Disease Fellow at the Florida Department of
Health during the 2015 Zika epidemic. So welcome everyone and let’s get started.
So first I’d like to start with a the most basic question and Graciela maybe
you could speak to this, how does the COVD-19 virus get spread? Well the virus goes from person-to-person germs from person-to-person. It gets transmitted that way once it enters your body it lodges itself in the lungs
and it starts multiplying so if you are ill you are infected with a COVID-19
virus and you start sneezing and coughing you release droplets in the air
and those droplets contain the virus. Anybody passing by may either inhale
that those droplets and get infected that way or those droplets may land in
you know the eyes and that’s another way of getting infected. Another way it may
be direct contact either you are taking care of someone who has been in who is
infected or you are close less than six feet away or you kiss someone infected.
So you know the recommendation is if you see someone who’s visibly who’s
ill who is coughing and sneezing, stay away at least six feet away from that person.
Another way of transmission is those droplets with the virus land on objects
on surfaces such as keyboards or tables and you go and touch them and then what
you do is there yeah the recommendation is to not touch your face. Can someone
spread the virus without being sick? The COVID-19 virus is mostly spread by people
who are showing symptoms of being ill but in a few cases it may be that people
who are not quite pre-symptomatic so they are not showing signs or symptoms
of sickness and those symptoms are fever, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing.
So those people before they show those symptoms may in fact infect other
people or your most of the infections are very mild
you may be infected and you may not know it because you don’t feel ill. But because you
cough or sneeze then you are going to infect other people. So what you should
do if you are ill or think you may be ill, sneeze into the crook of your arm
or take a tissue blow your nose and throw it right away.
Good advice always. So Krys, is everyone at risk for getting this? Who’s
actually most likely to get COVID-19? Given that this is a new virus then
everyone is susceptible for it but the people who are most likely to get it are
gonna be our health care professionals because people who may not know that
they are infected with COVID-19. They think they just have the flu or a severe cold
and go to primary care urgent care or the emergency department and infect
people who are the health care professionals there. So our doctors and
nurses so those are actually the people who are most at risk for getting the
virus directly just because of the nature of their work. To answer your
second question, who’s going to be most at risk with that those infections are people who are immunocompromised or are elderly individual. So thus far
only about 10 percent of cases have occurred in people who were aged 29 or
younger, so our young people are actually doing fairly well with this but our
elderly and immunocompromised people need to know to stay hyper-vigilant and
make sure that they are attending to everything Graciela just said. So for those
people don’t really know what immunocompromised is can you give us
some examples of some types of people like what illnesses they might have that
make them immunocompromised or maybe drugs that they’re taking that do the
same? Sure, so anything that suppresses the immune system, so that means it makes your immune system work a little less hard so if you have psoriatic arthritis psoriatic arthritis or you’re taking
cancer treatment or even if you have diabetes or heart disease or
chronic kidney disease. All of those things can make you a little more
susceptible to any infection and so Coronavirus is no different in that
aspect if you think you had a condition that your doctor says you need to be
making sure you’re taking care of yourself the Coronavirus is just another reason to make sure you’re doing okay. So Heather, I think that Graciela mentioned some of the things
that we can do to prevent getting this illness but maybe you can summarize some
of the things that Graciela mentioned and maybe elaborate on them. Yeah I can
definitely do that one important thing I want to point out
is that right now there is currently no vaccine for the disease so it is a virus
and we have other viruses like the annual influenza or the flu that we
vaccinate against but at this stage because it’s a new virus we don’t have a
vaccine and there is vaccines in production but they need to go to human
trials and that is still going to take some time. So while we’re waiting for a
vaccine there’s a few things that are really important that we practice. One is
washing your hands frequently with soap and water and according to the CDC you
should scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds and you should do this at
minimum before eating after going to the bathroom, before cooking, after blowing
your nose, coughing or sneezing, but it’s good practice to do it just frequently
throughout the day to just limit your exposure and this is good practice not
just for Coronavirus but prevention of any virus. Now if you’re in a situation
where you don’t have access to soap and water, alcohol-based sanitizers is
another option but you have to make sure there’s at least 60% alcohol content in
those sanitizers and if your hands are really dirty, like visibly dirty you want
to use soap and water first. Now another issue I know I was traveling
last week and I saw people with face masks on and so do you recommend wearing a face mask? No the current recommendation for face mask is really
limiting them for health professionals so this is actually an N95 mask that’s
used to prevent aerosols from being inhaled and because of the
shortage of masks we really need to reserve these for our healthcare workers and I think
wearing a mask gives you a false sense of security. So people might improperly
wear this mask pull it down and you’re still at risk, you’re gonna more likely to touch your face and so really you want the masks
for health care professionals. However, if you are sick and you’re
exhibiting symptoms we do recommend that you wear a mask to protect other people
from getting ill because you’re just stopping that spread of coughing and
sneezing from getting to others. That’s really good advice. So Sarah, there are so many viruses that cause disease but we’re hearing so much about this, why?
Well, I think you know more part of that is just public health issues, especially
when they’re infectious, are always gonna make a splash. Especially when we have
24/7 news that’s going on all the time and they have to have something to talk
about and I think part of it too is because the information is kind of
ever-changing as we kind of start to understand the epidemic and kind of
what’s happening and so we become more fearful because we aren’t sure really
what to expect. One way we kind of understand this is
what’s called risk perception which is really just you know how new things seem
to resonate with people and what how risky we think they are and usually
things that are new or things that we don’t have experience with are gonna
always be perceived as more risky than something that we do have experience
with, like the flu. So even if we know that these viruses are spread basically
the same way we’re always going to think that the new one is more dangerous about
it so one way to you know kind of think about it is you know are we more afraid
of being eaten by a shark or getting the flu? Most people would be afraid of
getting eaten by a shark even though you know 16,000 people have died of the flu
in the U.S. in the last year and I think there’s only been two shark fatalities
in the world in the last year. But our risk perception becomes really skewed
because these are the things that we most fear. So you know, my mother emailed me the other day and she said she wasn’t
sleeping well because she was worrying about this virus. So what do you suggest
people do so they can manage their fears? Yeah I mean part of it is just that
we’re paying more attention to it because it is something new and it kind
of heightens that fear because we aren’t really sure how to manage that
risk. And fear, in general, is a pretty powerful motivator, right? It’s a basic
human emotion. It protects us from danger and we usually, you know, on kind of a
daily basis will manage that fear by what’s called optimism bias. And that’s
kind of the sense of well it’s not going to happen to me and we actually you know
optimism bias can be positive in that it kind of helps us manage daily risk. If we
didn’t have it all of us would probably be afraid to leave our house on a daily
basis, but in the case of something like this outbreak our risk perception
actually increases and now all of a sudden it’s not it won’t happen to me
but this is totally gonna happen to me and that’s when people start to kind of
be upset or or fear that this is gonna happen. So people, you know, kind of
underestimate risks if they believe themselves to be vulnerable and when we feel safe if we don’t really feel obligated to do anything about it. But then on the
other hand fear can sometimes cause us to over estimate that risk. So how
do we manage that kind of fear? Really it’s trying to put things into context
but mostly its kind of taking back that sense of control so to learn like
Heather and Graciela we’re talking about, of you know, what we can do to protect
ourselves? To know exactly how its transmitted. How how to protect not only
ourselves but maybe our family? And that prevention piece is really important because it gives people a sense of, “okay I have some control over
what’s what’s happening,” right? Well, I think that does it for today. I
want to thank all of you for providing such useful information. Now we do have a
website set up in which we’ll post information we can take your questions
and we can answer them and the website is CPH.temple.edu/coronavirus. So thanks all of you for doing this with us.