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Covid-19 Q&A With Dr. Angelique Campen (part 4)

Dr. Angelique Campen is an ER doctor at Providence Saint Joseph Emergency Department, a Clinical Instructor of Emergency Medicine at UCLA Medical Center, and the CMO and Founder of Vital Medical Services. Follow her down to earth evidence based information at @glamERdoc.

With coronavirus infections surging in places across the country, including Los Angeles, has that translated to higher numbers of hospitalizations? Have we previously slowed the curve enough so that our hospitals are now prepared to handle the influx of new cases? 

I was hoping that the increased positives I was seeing would not translate to higher numbers of hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Unfortunately, I was wrong. We are now seeing an increase in hospitalizations even in the younger population (20-50). We have not yet seen an increase in the daily death rate, but I fear that is coming as well. The increased numbers is likely from the natural course of the disease coupled with the recent demonstrations and the lessening of the stay-at-home order with people going back to work. I fear that it is also due to the public becoming fatigued with wearing masks, being distant, and cleaning hands. All of this is evidence that you cannot be lax in your health precautions.
With summer and the economy opening up again, can you share what activities you are comfortable with? How safe are outdoor activities? What additional precautions should we take for indoor activities? 

You can expand your activities and your personal “bubble” of acquaintances safely as long as you do it with thought. Consider the environment: outdoor is better than indoor, large spaces are better than crowded ones. Density: try to avoid areas with high volumes of changing people. For example a club restaurant with a set community is safer than a public one. A neighborhood market with a small community is safer than a large metropolitan one that draws from a larger community. A school community classroom is safer than an international airport with lots of people from lots of areas. Continue to wear a mask, keep your distance from those not wearing a mask, and consider any public surface as contaminated and clean your hands.
What is your outlook for LA, for California, and for our country on our efforts to win against, or at least control the spread of, covid 19? In other words, can we end this pandemic anytime soon?

I thought we were getting this virus under control until the last month when it seemed all the hard work we put in was abandoned. I am concerned when I see large groups of people together often without masks. I don’t think we will eradicate this disease (covid-19) anytime soon. I feel that we will have to create our "new normal” and permanently adopt ways of dealing with it My concern is the upcoming flu season and having a population of people with the flu in addition to covid-19. It is unknown how the two viruses will interact and if getting the flu will make covid-19 even more virulent. I do know that it is wise to get a flu shot early this season. It is safe, effective, and has withstood the test of time.
How close are we to a vaccine? Have there been any significant new developments in treatments?
I am not hopeful that we will see a safe vaccine in 2021. Vaccines need to be studied over time. The last vaccine safely released to market took 4 years to study. Creating a vaccine is the easy part; studying its effects on the immune system and how the body will react when faced with the virus after being vaccinated is the hard part, and the part that takes time. I do know that the flu vaccine is safe (there is no live virus in the vaccine and you cannot catch the flu from the vaccine) and has been around for years so get it this year.

We don’t have any breakthrough treatments for the disease. Remdesivir works like Tamiflu works on the flu; it doesn’t cure the disease, but it lessens the severity of it and shortens the disease duration by a few days. 

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