Dear Patients of Signature Healthcare,
It has been over 4 months since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in China and a little more than one month since the World Health Organization designated this infection as a global pandemic. Much has been learned in that time. We aim to keep you informed and up to date on recent developments.
While over 2 million people in the world have been infected so far, it appears that our current efforts using social distancing, hand hygiene, and staying at home are working to slow the spread of this virus. The number of new cases in Italy, Spain, France, and the US have been decreasing over the last week. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients in many hot spots are down as well. Here in North Carolina, the rate of new cases has slowed from a doubling time of 2-3 days last month to 10 days this week. This demonstrates that what we have done over the past several weeks has prevented many new infections and saved lives. How much longer we will need to continue the current restrictions is not clear. Most models are based on continuing current measures through the beginning of June. For now, you should continue to stay home as much as possible, wash your hands, and be social from a distance.
Availability of testing for active SARS-CoV2 continues to improve but remains less than what is needed. There are now 34 labs performing tests under the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization but testing supplies remain in short supply given the large demand. Fortunately, Signature has been able to maintain access to a dependable lab and continues testing for COVID-19 in the parking lot outside our South Park office. If you develop fever, cough, loss of taste/smell or other concerning symptoms, please call the office at 704-554-8787.
There is much discussion about antibody testing to look for evidence of previous infection and possible immunity to the virus. This information would be vital in guiding us toward a more normal way of life. Presently, there are many laboratories and companies that have notified the FDA they are offering antibody tests without applying for approval under the current FDA process. The particular antibodies that might offer protection to SARS-CoV2 (as opposed to other coronaviruses) and at what level assures immunity remains unknown. We do not feel that any of these tests are helpful at the present time. Undoubtably, we will learn more in the coming weeks and have better tests for defining immunity.
The following is a link to an infographic that addresses many myths about COVID-19:https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/coronavirus-myths-mythconceptions/
As noted in prior updates, virtual visits are available at Signature Healthcare via a variety of platforms. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we encourage patients to take advantage of virtual visits with our physicians to stay on top of chronic health conditions as well as address any new concerns. Appointments for virtual visits can be made by calling the office. As always, we urge you to continue to engage in regular physical activity, eat a healthy diet, and minimize alcohol intake.
Until our next update, stay home and stay safe!
The Physicians & Staff at Signature Healthcare