As of today, more than 83,000 people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus. That includes 60 cases in the United States. Lexington Medical Center has a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians meeting regularly to discuss the situation and make appropriate decisions for preparations as needed. Our hospital is also staying in close contact with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and monitoring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates.
Last night, Lexington Medical Center infectious disease specialist Dr. Emilio Perez-Jorge was invited to be a guest on a WLTX panel on coronavirus. The video below contains some of his key points.
Dr. Perez highlighted that coronavirus is an airborne illness that can be transmitted through particles in the air. It can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces such as door knobs. Coronavirus and the flu are both respiratory viruses and the methods of transmission are essentially the same.
Because the coronavirus can be spread through the air, masks can help. However, Dr. Perez said it's too early to determine if community members should be gathering masks to be protected. Instead, he said masks are only needed for specific situations including clinicians treating patients in the hospital or in a household where someone has been exposed. Additionally, patients going to their doctors office or the hospital with coronavirus or flu-like symptoms should put a mask on to help prevent possible exposure to someone else.
Dr. Perez says there can be a higher risk for transmission in places where there are crowds or a lot of close interaction between people, such as some workplaces, school settings and other areas where people are in close proximity. Importantly, Dr. Perez said the best thing to do is use hand sanitizer, wash your hands often with soap and water, and cover your cough. And if you're sick, stay home.