Five Lessons Learned from COVID-19
As we enter another month of dealing with the ever-changing pandemic, new challenges continue to present themselves. One of the more frustrating aspects as a healthcare professional is keeping up with minute-by-minute changes in information.
Now eight months in, I would like to share five lessons learned from COVID-19 as we look back on where we were, where we are now, and where we’re headed.
1. Does the virus only affect individuals in “hot spots” such as China?
Sadly, we now know the answer to this is a resounding “no.” Even with border closings and travel restrictions to and from hotspots, the virus has hit the United States incredibly hard.
In fact, as of July 27, 2020, the United States had the highest number of valid reported cases at 4,234,140 and the highest number of deaths at 146,935. The United States is not alone in these high volumes. Brazil is currently reporting 2,419,091 cases and India is reporting 1,435,616. Unfortunately, the accuracy of China’s numbers can’t be confirmed.
2. Is this virus similar to the flu?
No. COVID-19 is not similar to the flu. Both are viruses, contagious, and can cause death in individuals in high-risk categories, but that’s where the similarities end. It is a vastly different illness.
Another lesson learned from COVID-19 is that this virus is highly contagious, and affects the respiratory system in a much more profound and deadly way than the flu. We are still learning if the virus can be contracted a second time and if it’s going to reoccur seasonally.
3. Are there any known effective treatments for COVID-19?
This is highly debated. There are drugs and treatments that have been effective in treating the virus. Remdesivir has been shown to be effective. Others, such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine (both malaria drugs), have been shown to be ineffective in some studies and effective in others when used in combination with other drugs. However, as with most things COVID, we frankly, don’t know and the information is based on who compiled the studies, which are vastly and frustratingly conflicting. It appears the effectiveness of these drugs is as vastly different as the symptoms experienced. We simply don’t know what is “highly” effective in treating COVID-19.
4. Are COVID-19 symptoms universal?
Originally, the medical community thought the tell-tale symptoms to confirm COVID-19 was a fever greater than 100.4°F, cough, and shortness of breath. But another lesson learned from COVID-19 is that there are many other symptoms commonly observed. Some of these include:
- Loss of sense of smell and taste
- Body aches
- Sore throat
If everyone who had COVID-19 presented the same symptoms, it would be much easier to contain. We now know that a person can be completely asymptomatic and still test positive for the virus.
5. Does the virus only affect people physically?
The pandemic has had a profound emotional and financial impact on many of us and probably will for years to come. Our lives have been turned upside-down in one way or another – from job loss to social isolation and fear. The unemployment rate – which was reported as among the lowest in history – increased in April to records not seen since the great depression. Due to the job loss, homelessness is expected to increase as well. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
My advice? Listen to the experts.
Continue to search for factual information. Listen to the experts, and follow their recommendations – even if you find it frustrating. Remember that our success as a society is dependent upon protecting one another.
Crossroads is in healthcare to make a difference and wants to contribute to others during this time. For those in need of assistance and expert care for patients, residents and/or loved ones with a life-limiting illness, we are still here and eager to help. We are only a phone call away at 1-888-564-3405.
DeAnna Looper, RN CHPN, CHPCA, CHC, CPCO
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care
Chief Compliance Officer
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