Hopitalized COVID-19 mortality

EMS providers please see NYS guidance documents.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (technically "SARS-CoV-2") causes the disease COVID-19.  COVID-19 is deadly.  It is much more lethal than the flu; credible estimates range from 1% (in a well functioning healthcare system) to 4.9% (in an overwhelmed helthcare system) versus 0.1% overall flu mortality. The death percentages increase dramatically with age beyond 60, having a pre-existing breathing problem, or having a condition which causes a reduced immune system response.  COVID-19 is much easier to catch than the flu.  Here are some facts about conronavirus:

Below are ways to avoid catching COVID-19, some things you should think about if you do catch COVID-19, and some other considerations.

How to Avoid Catching COVID-19

If you are 60 years or older, have a pulmonary compromise (lung disease, lung injury, CHF, etc.), are immunocompromised (diabetic, taking a steriod, have a organ transplant, etc.); please isolate yourself to the best of your abilities.  For everyone, but especially for you, your best protection is isolation.

If you must leave your home:

  1. Wash your hands in warm water, or use a hand sanitizer, before leaving and immediately upon returning.  Change out of and wash your outer clothes when you get home.
  2. Avoid touching.  Do not touch another person.  Do not touch objects others may have touched.  If you must touch, sanitize your hands immediately or otherwise as soon as you can.
  3. Keep a distance from other people.  It is recommended to keep 6 feet (or more) from others.
  4. Avoid groups of any size.  The larger the group. the more likely someone in the group is a carrier of the 2019 novel coronavirus, and might not even know it.
  5. Avoid closed spaces.  Airborne coronavirus is the most likely to infect you.  Fresh air is best; closed recirulated air in a small space is worst.

Everyone wearing even a simple cloth mask can prevent transmitting or receiving SARS-CoV-2 and catching COVID-19.
Mask effect in transmission Mask blocks droplets

How to Avoid Spreading COVID-19

The Federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance regarding the spread of COVID-19 at gatherings and events is online here.

For individuals, unless you are very sick, stay home.  On the other hand, if you have severe difficulty breathing, go the the hospital.

If you must go out, wear a face (nose and mouth) coverning.  There are many plans of how to make a face covering or mask on the internet.  You may be infected and don't know it.  A face covering will help prevent you from passing the virus on to someone else.  If you are not infected, properly constructed, to a limited extent, it may help you avoid infection.  The New York Times has an article about how to choose the best fabric; the NYT article is also reproduce here.

If You Think You May Have COVID-19

The symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.  COVID-19 symptoms are:

Someone who is infected may have none, one, some, or all of the symptoms.  The CDC estimates that about 35% of those infected show no symptoms (are asymptomatic), but can tranmit the disease.  If you have symptoms, get a free test.  If your symptoms are mild, please DO NOT GO to the hospital's emergency department.  There is absolutely nothing the ED can do to make this better other than routine symptom control which you can do at home.

If you cannot speak in complete sentences, you have severe shortness of breath.  Please GO to hospital's emergency department.  The hallmark of COVID-19 is severe lower respiratory (lung) complaints.  Severe shortness of breath could indicate acute severe disease (COVID-19 or something else) and needs to be taken seriously.

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms will be handled differently and evaluated with the strictest of precautions.  There will be isolation.  There will be doctors, PA's, NP's, nurses, and techs who will be in isolation gear as well.

Other Considerations

Please DO NOT GO to the emergency department for minor complaints like strains, low back pain, minor bumps and bruises. 

If it is not an emergency, going to the hospital in an ambulance will not get you seen more quickly than going by car or taxi.  Call 911 for a true emergency such as severe difficulty breathing, heart attack, brain attack (stroke), severe injury, uncontrollable bleeding, etc.  For other than an emergency, go the the hospital in someone's car or take a taxi.  The EMTs are already in danger.  Please don't put them at additional risk.


Updated: 27 June 2020