May 23rd 2020 - Dr. Fred Buckhold, Dr. Jason Newland, Dr. Michael Lim, & Katie Smith

Health Matters
Friday, May 22nd
Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  The Centers for Disease Control now says the COVID-19 mortality rate is 0.4%.  Dr. Buckhold thinks that is a realistic number and could be even lower if more people were tested -- but it is still four times higher than the influenza mortality rate.  The CDC also says 35% of COVID-19 cases are transmitted by asymptomatic people -- those who show no symptoms at all.  Dr. Buckhold also reacts to new CDC findings regarding transmission of the illness -- saying the virus does not survive well on surfaces and objects.  But it can still happen.  Dr. Buckhold says we still need to practice good hand hygiene, wear a mask and socially distance.  Dr. Buckhold says he has also seen cases of delirium in COVID-19 patients, but it's still not sure if that is due to the virus or is a result of the hospital or ICU stay.

Dr. JASON NEWLAND, Washington University infectious diseases specialist at St. Louis Children's Hospital. With Memorial Day weekend here, Dr. Newland says we should be able to widen our tight circle of close friends just a bit -- but keep in mind that involves risk.  He says a bar-b-que would be okay -- with a couple of friends over -- as long as they are also practicing precautionary measures.  Same thing with a road trip.  Dr. Newland says that's fine as long as you remember to wipe down surfaces before touching them.  And make sure you avoid large gatherings of people, practice good hand hygiene, wear a mask when in public and try not to touch your face.  Dr. Newland also says new CDC advice regarding transmission of the virus means you don't really need to wear gloves when grocery shopping or wipe down all the food products you buy before bringing them into your home. But you should continue to wipe down any surfaces that may have high amounts of virus on them.

Dr. MICHAEL LIM, SLU Care cardiologist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  President Trump has now wrapped up taking hydroxycholoroquine for the past two weeks as a preventive measure to help him avoid COVID-19.  Dr. Lim says that is dangerous because the drug has been found to have a negative impact in early testing in late stage COVID-19 patients.  Dr. Lim says it is also dangerous for people with heart conditions.  Dr. Lim says there just isn't good science yet suggesting the drug is good to prevent the illness and he would not recommend it to his patients.   Dr. MICHAEL AVIDAN is head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine and one of the principal investigators of a new global trial on Chloroquine at Wash U.  Dr. Avidan's study is testing choloroquine in local healthcare workers to see if it can help prevent infection from the virus.  He thinks the drug works best to block the virus in people who are not infected or just got infected -- but not in those who are in the later stages of the illness.

KATIE SMITH, Sports Medicine Outreach Manager at SSM Health.  New guidelines are out from the STL area's three largest healthcare groups -- BJC HealthCare/Washington University Physicians, Mercy and SSM Health/SLU Care.  Smith says June 15th is the date targeted for restarting youth and high school sports.  That is pending continued stable or downward trend of COVID cases in the given region.  Guidelines include all athletes, coaches, referees/umpires should undergo health screenings prior to starting play. The use of locker rooms should be avoided. No spectators should attend any workout or practice.  No sharing of water bottles. Team huddles should be eliminated.  No handshakes or fist bumps should take place.  Coaches and officials should wear masks.  Spectators as well and kids playing sports up until the time they start taking part in the activity.