An Infectious Disease Doc Answers This Week’s Pressing COVID-19 Questions

Every Friday, Dr. Mia Taormina fields questions from Reset listeners about how to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dr. Mia Taormina, infectious disease specialist DuPage Medical Group / AP Photo
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dr. Mia Taormina, infectious disease specialist DuPage Medical Group / AP Photo

An Infectious Disease Doc Answers This Week’s Pressing COVID-19 Questions

Every Friday, Dr. Mia Taormina fields questions from Reset listeners about how to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Every Friday, tune into 91.5FM at 11 a.m. when Dr. Mia Taormina, an infectious disease specialist with the DuPage Medical Group, takes listener questions about the coronavirus and how to stay safe and offers her expert opinion about issues related to the ongoing public health crisis. Press “Listen” to play the radio segment or read below; the conversation with Reset host Justin Kaufmann has been edited for clarity and length.

This week Illinois saw the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day since May with more than 15,000 reported Friday. The state positivity rate is at an alarming 14%. Will, Kane, DuPage, and Kankakee Counties have temporarily banned indoor dining to slow the spread of the virus. Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stay-at-home advisory in Chicago. She is urging residents to only go out for essentials. Nationally, the coronavirus pandemic is breaking records with the United States surpassing 160,000 cases in a day.

Reset: We knew the second surge was coming, but it continues to surge. When we talk about advisories and orders, what can be done?

Dr. Taormina: We’ve trended towards being two to three weeks behind Europe and we can see what’s going on in Europe right now. Entire countries are going on lockdown. Obviously we have a larger feat in the United States to do something similar but to some extent it’s almost hindsight is 20/20. I wish we could’ve had a national strategy sooner. So, I’m not sure what more can be done or if we’re all just standing around watching this dumpster fire. We have to take on the personal, individual responsibilities of what we know, what we can do in order to make this better. The problem is, it doesn’t help much if others simply are not.

Reset: Why is this moment different than say, a month ago, two months ago, different than the norm that people have set up?

Dr. Taormina: We have to look at these positivity rates. When you have large groups of people who are not personally affected by this and their friends are not personally affected by this and to their knowledge everyone they’re around is healthy and well it’s hard to conceptualize the magnitude of what’s going on in our communities. But we do have a situation now where percentages are approaching 15, 20, 30 percent in some areas and some states are much much higher than that. Which means that if you are standing in a room of ten people. Chances are one of those ten is positive and doesn’t know it and we know the infectivity potential of this virus and we can see where that lapse in judgement, that presumption of safety, is leading to these astronomical climbs in case counts.

Question from Marty in Evergreen Park: What is the process to be non-contagious and entering back into the world?

Dr. Taormina: We know statistically that for most healthy people under age 65 that have no immuno-compromising conditions, the vast majority will have virus that no longer is contagious by around day ten. That’s when the standard recommendation for most healthy people, ten days from the day of diagnosis. If you don’t have a test then it could be ten days from the time of symptom onset, otherwise we like to use the date of the test as an abundance of caution. Around that time, that’s when the body generally forms antibodies around day 10 or 11. And at that point, it is highly unlikely that any virus we can still detect is infectious.

Question from Evelyn in Rogers Park: What can people do if they do have coronavirus that will reduce the time that they have it? How can they make themselves better?

Dr. Taormina: We’re starting to hone in on several supplements that people are taking with some level of success. We’ve had some time to kind of investigate those, so I would definitely encourage you to talk to your doctor. I don’t want anyone using even supplements without having conversations with healthcare professionals, however Zinc, vitamin C, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, pepcid, melatonin, things that we can get over the counter have shown some efficacy in possibly blunting the severity of some of these symptoms over time. We also know, as we’ve learned more about this virus, that a lot of the mortality comes from the inflammatory cascade and from clotting issues. So you may want to talk to your doctor too about your candidacy to potentially take an aspirin a day, or something along those lines as a clotting preventative.

Aleezeh Hasan is an intern of WBEZ’s Reset. Follow her @aleezehh. Email her at ahasan@wbez.org