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The Spread of Coronavirus – Stay healthy!

March 12, 2020 • • Uncategorized

For those who know me, I often like to use analogies to explain medical issues. So, for the spread of the Coronavirus that seems so overwhelming to many of us, indulge me with the following: Imagine a large can of white paint. Let’s call that the entire population of the USA. And let’s say that red paint is the virus. If you place 3 small drops of the red paint into the white paint can, most of the paint in the can stays white, initially. Over the next few minutes (weeks in this country since the virus first appeared), small strands of the red paint will ‘bleed’ into the surrounding white paint, thus spreading the virus. Still a lot of white paint, most of the country not affected. But if you stir the paint (people travel around the country, get together at large gatherings, etc), or watch it for a longer period of time, then the white paint will start to turn pink (many more people will be exposed to the virus). Without a uniform stir of the paint, there will be areas in the can that are more intensely red (large urban areas) where the virus is more concentrated (think of the nursing home in Washington state, or the NY suburb, where many people are testing positive). If we limit the mixing of the paint (ie: limit your exposure to crowds, avoid a lot of personal contact with people you don’t know, etc), there may be some areas that remain mostly white, even though much of the can will become pink. Eventually, this virus will spread throughout the vast majority of the population, but hopefully it will be diluted enough that most people will have mild to no symptoms. Without the stirring, adding more red paint doesn’t really stop the mixing (travel ban into the country at this point may be too late), so the primary objective is to limit the stirring (population interaction). Yes, this is a loose analogy, and it is easy to poke holes in it and ask the never-ending ” but what if…..” or “but you didn’t account for….”. I get it. We will get through this, like we have for so many of the past pandemics (Spanish Flu, Asian Flu, SARS, etc). But my point is that we need to follow good personal practices by avoiding crowds, washing our hands, and not panicking. Best regards, and stay healthy!   Richard D. Kimmel, DO, FCCP, FACOS, RPhS

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