Hello. My name is Paul Casey. I’m the chief
medical officer here at Rush, and I just wanted to take a minute to address a few common questions
that come up about this coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak. So start with a general overview
of coronavirus. Coronavirus is really the cause of many common colds. What’s a little
different about this novel coronavirus is it’s a common cold to which a lot of us have
not been exposed across the world, and that’s why you’re hearing about a lot of people getting
sick with symptoms of coronavirus. When our immune system hasn’t been exposed to this
before, it can cause symptoms and causes us to get — in this case, the most common symptoms
are upper respiratory symptoms. So same as a cold — fever, cough, congestion you might
experience as well, and about one in five patients also develop some diarrhea with the
coronavirus. Now the great news is that the coronavirus
is actually quite mild for the vast majority of people that get it, about over 95% of people
that get the coronavirus will just have a cold and nothing more than really a cold.
There are certain groups that we worry about that are a little more at risk for developing
more severe symptoms, and that’s specifically those that are over 60 years old, those that have
some other diseases. So those that are over 60 with diabetes, with high blood pressure,
with heart disease, that tends to be the group that is more likely to get sick from the coronavirus.
But again, for the vast majority of people that we see with coronavirus — it’s going
to feel like a cold. Even those that are seen here in the hospital would be discharged home
for what we call home quarantine or to stay in their rooms, stay in their
house so that they’re not spreading this elsewhere. So it brings up another good question as to
how do we prevent the spread of the coronavirus? And really the great news here is that just
like any virus, we have to go back to the basics. So the message we’ve been trying to
carry forward, as did President Obama, is keep calm and wash your hands, right? Because
these viruses, the only way to contain these viruses is really a lot of hand hygiene. So
anytime you’re touching surfaces, it can be spread by contact. It can be spread by people
coughing as well. So really important to do frequent hand washing to prevent passing this
on. The one other piece that I wanted to touch on was the coronavirus here at Rush. So we
have had, today is — I’ve got to get my dates together. I’ve been here an awful lot. So
March 7, on Saturday, March 7, we’ve had a single one case of coronavirus to date.
There’s been a number of patients that have come in that we screen as they come into the
hospital and we’ve said, “Boy, this is a good enough story that we think we need to
evaluate you to see is this the flu, which is far more likely the case — about 29 million
people in America this year have had the flu, so far more likely to be flu, or could
this be the coronavirus? So we’ve had about 10 or so patients come through that we did
that evaluation. In that evaluation, only one patient to date has actually had the coronavirus
— that patient was seen in the emergency department. As I said, like most patients,
he looked incredibly well just with cold symptoms. We tested him. He was actually sent home
for that self-quarantine, came back later that night saying he was starting to not feel
as well. So out of an abundance of caution, we put them up in our medical isolation room
upstairs on the 10th floor and watched him up there for about a day or so. Throughout
the entire time, I can tell you he was completely stable. He
was sitting up texting with family, texting on social media. Again, just with these cold
symptoms. So we really played it just on the safe side as this was one of the first patients
to come in. I think all indicators are that we’re going to see more cases likely in the
Chicago area. The best things again we can do is really the handwashing, that self-isolation,
you know, trying to, if you’re having any symptoms, this isn’t a time to come to work
if you’re having a fever at home. And the final thing I’d like to say is that we have
set up a number of resources. Most importantly, we have our rush.edu coronavirus page, and
that we are keeping up to date with both the latest resources as well as questions. Any
questions that have come up, we’re trying to keep that page updated. So hopefully that
caught you up with some of the information around the coronavirus, and we’ll try to keep
the communication going as much as we can.