Dear Patients of Signature Healthcare,
As restrictions are eased, we must remind ourselves that the battle against COVID-19 is ongoing. Here is what we know so far, with some specifics about Signature’s patients:
- 73 Signature Healthcare patients have been tested (nasal swab) for acute infection. Five of these patients tested positive (6.8%). These patients were directed by their physicians to be tested because of symptoms or potential high-risk exposures. None of these patients required hospitalization.
- 96 Signature patients have been tested (blood test) for previous infection. Four of these patients tested positive (4.2%). These patients were largely self-referred with the approval of their physicians.
- Thirty out of 1800 asymptomatic people from the Charlotte population tested positive for previous infection (1.6%). Testing was carried out by Atrium.
These numbers make sense when you consider that, with each group listed, the likelihood of a positive test decreases as you go from:
1) MD suspicion due to symptoms or high-risk exposure
2) Patient self-referred due to concerns
3) No suspicion and no concerns.
However, even if the prevalence of infection is 5-10% (rather than 1-2%), that still leaves over 90% of the population susceptible. Since a conservative guess for the widespread availability of a vaccine is still a year away, that means we are all in this for the long haul. Though restrictions are starting to loosen, we need to maintain the healthy habits that got us to this point: frequent handwashing, social distancing and wearing a mask when interacting with groups of people. We also recommend having a reliable thermometer in your home since over 90% of COVID-19 cases are associated with a fever at some point in the illness.
There have been questions regarding the use of vitamin D to prevent COVID-19 as well as to reduce complications if one becomes infected. This is based on findings of low vitamin D levels in COVID-19 patients with severe or critical outcomes. There is no medication or supplement that we know of that can prevent you from getting infected. Studies linking low vitamin D to a multitude of other diseases (from fibromyalgia to cancer to multiple sclerosis to diabetes) have been around for decades. If you are not vitamin D-deficient there is currently no evidence that taking a supplement is beneficial. If you are deficient, then it is appropriate to take a supplement to normalize your levels and reduce your risk of bone disease and possibly reduce your risk from other illnesses. If you don’t know your vitamin D level, then it’s OK to take a high-quality OTC vitamin D supplement (2,000-5,000 IU daily). Unless you have been instructed otherwise by your physician, do not take more than 5,000 IU per day.
We’d like to remind you that Signature remains available for any acute or chronic problems that arise using a variety of telemedicine platforms (Zoom, FaceTime, etc). We are also available for in-office visits. For those of you due for your Annual Check-up, we are scheduling those as well in our safe office environment and with the availability of a hybrid telemedicine-in-person format for those of you that would prefer this option.
Your family at Signature is here for you during this pandemic. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns.
The Signature Healthcare Staff