- December 1, 2020
- Steve Heisler
- Senior Injuries
Covid is a respiratory viral infection, so it is spread via respiratory droplets in close contact – less than six feet for longer than fifteen minutes. It can happen when congregating in settings where you have people in close contact for more extended periods of time. Nursing homes are not the only example. Some other times where people are in close contact are prisons, meatpacking plants, and cruise ships. The CDC warns against gathering with more than ten people at a time, including concert halls, churches, and theaters. These environments set people up for prolonged exposure. Nursing homes are unique because the population of people in nursing homes tends to be the population that is most vulnerable to disease and death from the pandemic. If you look at hospitalization rates, they skyrocket as you get older. Also, fatalities skyrocket as you get older. When you have a group of elderly people in an intimate environment, you will likely see Covid-19 spread rapidly and harm those patients.
Getting Tested For Covid-19
We have testing available now; we can get rapid tests back within fifteen minutes. Abbott’s Fast test is the size of a credit card, affordable, and provides results quickly. That allows us to test the nursing population much more frequently than we were nine months ago. Hopefully, we can educate people to wear masks outside of nursing homes and back inside nursing homes. That way, their risk of passing the virus on is much less. If you can reduce your community’s case rate, you will reduce the number of positive cases in your home. If you look at the curves for daily cases, hospitalizations, and deaths – the daily cases and hospitalizations mirror each other. As the case rate goes up, the hospitalizations go up and vice versa. Those curves are, unfortunately, on their way up. The death rate has come down with the pandemic – that has to do with early testing and treatment.
Getting Treatment For Covid-19
The one treatment that has been shown to impact survival is dexamethasone. Once patients develop hypoxia, if you administer dexamethasone, you reduce the mortality rate by eighteen percent. The ventilator can reduce mortality by upward of thirty percent. There are some disadvantages to taking dexamethasone. Patients can suffer from adverse effects like hyperglycemia, secondary infections, psychiatric outcomes, avascular necrosis. Another thing you have probably heard about on the news is remdesivir. The president received remdesivir as a way to help recover. Remdesivir is an anti-viral; it acts upon the virus and kills it. However, it hasn’t been shown to improve survival. Instead, it shows to improve the time of recovery. It will reduce the duration of the illness. During a study, remdesivir was far better than a placebo in shortening the time to recovery in adults who were hospitalized with Covid-19 and had evidence of lower respiratory tract infection. So what should you do if you think you or a loved one has Covid-19?
Seeking Care For Covid-19
If someone is inflicted with Covid, the protocol is supportive care. You treat it like any other viral infection, which includes fluid and bed rest. If the patient develops hypoxia, they should go to the hospital and be evaluated because the treatments can be helpful. With the vaccine, we can get the virus behind us by the end of next year. The aging population will be the priority to get the vaccine because they are the most vulnerable. In fact, Pfizer’s trial, involving more than 40,000 people, yielded fantastic results. The vaccine proves to be ninety-percent effective against Covid-19. Plus, there are no safety risks for taking the vaccine, and it’s even more effective than our annual flu shot. Until the vaccine can be released, a mask still remains our best defense against the virus.
Overall, if your loved ones are in the high-risk category, especially for our elder loved ones, we can do the best thing for them by wearing a mask and staying distant. We appear to be nearing the end of the pandemic; once you and your loved ones can receive the vaccine, we will be able to get back to spending quality time together and hopefully enjoy a typical holiday season come 2021. If you want to stay up to date with what is affecting our senior population, follow The National Injured Senior Law Center on Facebook.