As our community confronts the threat of a resurgence of the Corona Virus, we again invite Lawrence homeowner and prominent immunologist Dr. Marc Sicklick to share his insights, suggestions, and concerns with our residents.
As your Mayor and neighbor, I join Dr. Sicklick and other medical professionals in strongly urging every Lawrence citizen to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and protect yourself and those around you to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
Alex H. Edelman, Mayor
Marc J. Sicklick, M.D., Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology – Telephone 516-569-5550
September 24, 2020
As we get into the fall, COVID 19 seems to be doing what other coronaviruses do. Most past coronaviruses tended to decrease in mid-spring, in May, and return in the early fall. There is no reason to think that COVID-19 will be different. The summer drop off in numbers and deaths was not the end of the epidemic. It was a brief, expected lull that has ended.
This is not the time to ease up, neither because of a misguided feeling that “it’s over” which is unfathomable to me, nor because of burn out. It is the time to increase vigilance and prevention.
The disease will be here for the foreseeable future and we have to adapt to the new reality.
If a doctor tells a patient that they have a horrible, potentially fatal disease, but if they are willing to go through a year or two of absolute misery they will be cured and go on to have years of normal life, does anyone think the patient would not be willing to go through it? We’re being asked, not to go through misery and suffering, but rather to go through inconvenience and annoyance. How can we say no to that?
Local numbers from yesterday in the Five Towns showed that the percentage positive, which was below 1% all summer and went up to about 1.5% over the past week, jumped to 3.5%. Far Rockaway jumped to 5.2% yesterday. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see where this is going if we don’t ALL do the right thing immediately. We are heading towards disease spread and to government ordered lockdowns.
If a vaccine came out tomorrow, and if (IF) it were perfect, it will still be about a year until enough people develop immunity to protect us. The vaccine is not coming out tomorrow, and I don’t expect a vaccine to be anywhere near 100%, and do not expect it to offer lifetime immunity. I expect that we will need boosters on a regular basis. I can’t define regular basis from this distance.
It’s important to define some basic terms.
Isolation is for someone who has the disease. It is for a minimum of 10 days and the person must be well for at least several days. Isolation means staying away from everyone. It does not mean going around wearing a mask. It means not going around.
Quarantine is for someone who has had exposure to a disease source. It is for 14 days since that is the window for developing COVID-19 after exposure. Less than 14 days is not enough. Less than the full 14 days increases the risk of spread. One cannot test themselves out of quarantine. The 14 days is sacrosanct. If during this 14 day window someone develops COVID, they change to isolation from quarantine and begin their 10 day (minimum) count.
The criteria for needing quarantine is being less than 6 feet from, and more than 10-15 minutes near, a positive person. Obviously, more intimate contact such as sharing food or utensils or a face to face conversation would require quarantine even with less than ten minutes spent together. Both the Nassau County Board of Health and New York City Board of Health have mentioned 12 feet spacing for religious services where there is singing, “chanting”, or loud sermons.
We are into a significant uptick now. If you look at the numbers, the Five Towns and Far Rockaway are real hotspots. It is only a matter of time before, unfortunately, we see deaths again.
People, have told me that the virus seems less virulent, less damaging. This is not true. First of all, the deaths and severe complications can lag several weeks behind the case number increase. Second, younger people are being hit now. We aren’t having nursing home deaths so the population is less likely to die. It may look like things are less dangerous, but the optics can be very deceiving.
The University of Washington’s updated predictions show a curve moving up in New York from the current handful of daily deaths to as high as several hundred per day towards the end of the fall.
What must we all do?
Everyone needs to mask. Everyone needs to maintain distancing. Everyone needs to avoid unnecessary close contact, even with close relatives who don’t live in the same house. Children and grandchildren will spread the disease and biologic ties do not prevent it. This isn’t a personal choice. This is an obligation as a member of society to protect other people.
If you walk into a room and it’s overcrowded, meaning the minimum of 6 feet in all directions is not there, walk out. This applies to social gatherings or religious services. Don’t go in and if you’re already there, walk out.
If you walk into a store and people aren’t wearing masks, don’t be shy. Tell the owner to follow the guidelines. If they don’t comply, walk out. You may save a life. It may be your own. It may be a friend, relative, or neighbor.
It’s not just about you. It’s also about your contacts.
There have been no major breakthroughs in the past few weeks. No new magic drugs. No scientific news pointing to an imminent vaccine release. The only news is of the uptick in numbers.
Marc J. Sicklick, M.D.