TUCSON, Ariz., Dec. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — While Christmas should be a joyful time, loneliness and depression may be worsened for many, especially if COVID-19 restrictions prevent normal social interaction. Then there is a surge in deaths attributed to COVID-19.

One couple reportedly got infected in Tucson despite assiduous adherence to isolation measures. The wife died; the husband is slowly recovering. About 66 percent of infected New Yorkers say they had been following lockdown rules.

How does this happen? One possibility is orofecal transmission. The virus is known to survive in the stool. It could be aerosolized by flushing toilets and be disseminated by ventilation systems. It has been isolated from restroom exhaust fans. In one study of environmental contamination, the air sampler had to be quarantined twice despite wearing full protective gear. Measures that may help include closing the lid when flushing if possible and/or disinfecting with bleach. Air purification devices that include ultraviolet light are worth considering. Let in fresh outside air as much as possible.

How can we identify persons most likely to be infected—both for isolation and early treatment? The most sensitive early sign is probably not fever but loss of the sense of smell. Standardized screening tests are being developed, and “scratch and sniff” olfactory (smell) tests are available on line.

Complete protection from exposure is not possible. Everyone needs to pay attention to maintaining a strong immune system. Adequate vitamin D levels are critical. Most people, especially dark-skinned people, are deficient, cannot get enough sun exposure, and thus need supplementation.

Vaccines approved rapidly under an Emergency Use Authorization are just now being distributed, but a second dose is needed. The vaccine has not been shown to prevent transmission of illness but only to decrease symptoms, and it may not be effective against the new strains now being reported.

Despite infection control measures and vaccines, early treatment, for example with ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, steroids, antibiotics, vitamins, and/or other measures, is a critical pillar of protection.

Be vigilant and proactive, rather than fearful. Share an extra gesture of kindness, along with helpful advice.

Physicians for Civil Defense provides information to help save lives in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

Contact: Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, [email protected]

SOURCE Physicians for Civil Defense

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