NEW ALBANY, MS – “COVID is not going to go away,” a prominent northeast Mississippi physician told NEMISS.NEWS last week.
“I suspect it is going to be one of the illnesses, such as the flu, ordinary head colds and strep, which we will have to deal with from now on,” said Dr. Shane Scott of the Internal Medicine and Pediatric Clinic (IMPC) in New Albany.
Scott said the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases and deaths in Mississippi during the last month is real. “It’s definitely increasing,” he said.
How long will the crisis last? How long before the pandemic will be brought “under control?” The answer to those questions depends, of course, on when and if vaccines are proven effective and are widely available.
Dr. Scott said he believes pandemic precautions must be observed until “next spring or next summer.” Until vaccines become widely available, he says the coronavirus can only be brought under control by social distancing and isolation of those who are, or who may be, infected.
Who is infected?
Scott pointed out that there is a great deal of misinformation about who is infected with coronavirus. If you have a negative test, “it only means you were negative at the time the nasal swab was obtained.” Depending on where you go and who you are with, you may acquire a COVID-19 infection later on the same day your “negative” test was obtained.
“Everyone wants an answer,” said Dr. Scott. He said the test that is most reliable and specific is a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. The PCR test is one in which a nasal swab is obtained and sent off to a reference laboratory for analysis. PCR tests involve complex DNA studies that can only be done in sophisticated facilities. Usually, results from PCR tests are available in 48 to 72 hours.
Less sophisticated tests, in which “results” are available within a few hours, are not particularly reliable.
Relatively few people infected with coronavirus die of the virus. Most recover. This is highly dependant on age and functional status. Dr. Scott says recommendations for most patients are the same as for those with flu: rest, Tylenol for fever, plenty of fluids and, of course, isolation.
However, those with “underlying” health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, kidney disease, COPD, etc. may become very sick and die.
Hospitals around Mississippi are said to be full-to-capacity now with patients so sick they require ventilators and other intensive care for any chance of survival.
Record numbers of Mississippians have died of COVID-19 within the last two weeks.
Although Mississippi has a relatively small population (a little under three million) and is not densely populated, the state rates 12th in the nation in the number of deaths per million from the coronavirus.
During the “flu season,” which the CDC generally considers stretches from October through April, up to 62,000 Americans may have died from the flu. However, 137,187 Americans have died of coronavirus this year.
As many as 260,000 may have died world-wide during October – April from the flu. Meanwhile, during the same period, there have been 572,000 deaths around the world– more than twice as many – from COVID-19.
Meantime, Dr. Scott urges social distancing – staying at least six feet away from others — and avoiding time in groups of people; wearing masks if it is necessary to be in large groups for even brief periods.
For State and Local COVID-19 info: https://www.nemiss.news/hospitalizations-icu-admissions-surge-in-ms-weekly-covid-19-summary-13jul2020/Covid-19 coronavirus, Dr. Shane Scott, Internal Medicine and Pediatric Clinic, New Albany MS, Northeast MS news