Letter: A message from the front lines of COVID-19 crisis
My name is Dr. Scott McCorvey and I am a practicing physician at Vail Summit Emergency Physicians, a group that has provided emergency services for Vail Health Hospital for many years. I am board certified in Emergency Medicine and have a master’s degree in cell and molecular Biology. I wanted to write to you today to shed a light on the current coronavirus pandemic and things you may expect if you are to get sick during this time of uncertainty and confusion.
Earlier this month, Colorado declared Eagle County as the first county with “community spread.” This designation means that the virus is being passed from person to person, drastically increasing the rate of spread throughout our valley.
During the past 10 days, a lot has changed in our lives, including the closure of ski resorts, dine-in restaurants, bars, movie theaters, schools, and colleges, while limitations have been placed on the number of people who can gather in one area and the concept of “social distancing” has been introduced. These measures aim to limit the transmission of the virus going forward, as there are no pharmacological treatments available to slow or treat this disease. Without social changes, our infection rate would undoubtedly be climbing higher and higher, thus placing all of us at greater risk while exhausting medical resources throughout our state and mountain region.
Going forward, I want to share with you my current understanding of COVID-19 and what to expect if you become infected. Current epidemiological studies from both Europe and Asia suggest that the incubation period of this disease is between 7-14 days, with patients potentially being contagious up to 48 hours before their first symptom. It is very important for everyone in our community to understand this point, as you may be contagious for up to 48 hours before the first sign of illness. This is the fundamental reason for social distancing and self-isolation.
Once infected, 80% of patients will recover without medical intervention. Patients may expect typical flu-like symptoms including fatigue, headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, and nausea. These symptoms typically last 7-14 days, peaking about one week into the illness and gradually improving thereafter.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
If you experience flu-like symptoms over the next several weeks, please call your primary care provider to discuss your case and the need for any further testing or intervention. If you do not have a primary care provider, please consider Colorado Mountain Medical, Mountain Family Health Center, or our urgent care in Avon.
Currently, the Gypsum urgent care is closed for routine medical visits. If your primary care physician believes you need to be tested for COVID-19, you may be referred to this facility. While testing is important, many patients with mild illness will not need to be tested as a positive test will not change treatment or social distancing recommendations. This is especially true during this time of limited testing capacity.
Unfortunately, up to 20% of patients infected with this virus will go on to experience severe symptoms that may require hospitalization and prolonged in-patient care. This typically occurs one week into the illness with an acute worsening of cough, shortness of breath, and or chest pain. If at any time you experience such symptoms, you should immediately proceed to your nearest emergency department for further evaluation.
For severe symptoms, especially difficulty breathing or chest pain, consider calling 911. The emergency department in Vail is open 24/7/365, and everyone there is well prepared to take care of you or your loved one in your time of need.
Scott McCorvey, M.D. M.S.
Vail Valley Emergency Physicians