Mass General Hospital, the largest trauma center in our region that is dealing with Covid-19 cases.  The hospital is bracing to be overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients in the coming weeks, and they do not have enough N95 masks.  Health care workers’ lives will be put at risk through repeated exposure to the disease, and they don’t have the proper equipment to protect themselves.  If they become sick, they also cannot care for the patients who come in, and that is dangerous for all of society.  You can help. Please contact CovidDonations@Partners.org.

A Message from the Health Sciences Faculty at Worcester State University:

Dear Members of the Community,

As we prepare for the coming months, we faculty of public health and health education would like to share some key points and tips from our fields.

STAY HOME  We cannot emphasize enough the importance of each of us doing all we can to stay home. Healthy people may wonder why this is so important. Anyone who catches Covid-19 and goes out into the community spreads the disease. This leads to higher rates of transmission, increasing the likelihood that vulnerable individuals will be exposed. You may only encounter healthy people, but they may then encounter individuals at higher risk of death, such as those who are elderly, immunosuppressed, have heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, hypertension, or lung cancer. Even for healthy people, Covid-19 can be dangerous. Data is emerging daily, but thus far, Covid-19 has been a minimum of 10-15 times more lethal than the flu and can cause serious lifelong side effects including immune system disruption or scar tissue in the lungs requiring lifelong restrictions on activity level.

PROTECT OUR MEDICAL SYSTEM  It is essential that we protect our health care system from being overwhelmed. US rates of transmission thus far have followed Italy, where the health system is now overwhelmed, doctors do not have enough ventilators,  and are forced to choose between patients who will receive care and who will die. Patients are treated in hospital corridors rather than isolation rooms, worsening disease spread. Italy has 3.2 hospital beds per 1000 people (vs. 2.8 in the United States). The US also has a major shortage of ventilators as well as face masks for health care workers, to the extent that health care workers are now told to use scarves and bandanas (which are ineffective) as masks as a last resort. This is why staying home now is so important in slowing the rate of transmission and the overall number of cases (aka flatten the curve). Hospitals need materials. Anyone with N95 masks or other protective equipment can donate here: https://www.massgeneral.org/news/coronavirus/ppe-donation-form

PEOPLE WITHOUT SYMPTOMS SPREAD CORONAVIRUS  Approximately half of all transmissions of Coronavirus occur from individuals who are asymptomatic, meaning that they are not aware that they are sick.  Therefore, isolating only the sick is ineffective in preventing the spread of this disease and to reduce spread, everyone must isolate.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS  Recent research shows that Covid-19 lives 72 hours on plastic, 48 hours on steel, and 24 hours on cardboard. If it is absolutely necessary to leave home, simple steps can prevent contracting and spreading the virus: frequent hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds, using a clean tissue to touch frequently used surfaces (e.g. elevator buttons, gas pumps, etc.), social distancing of 6 feet or more between people, using hand sanitizer, avoiding touching one’s face, and sanitizing one’s phone. At home, wash hands after handling mail, boxes, or freshly purchased groceries.

WHERE TO GET INFORMATION The best sources of public health information are peer-reviewed scientific journal articles. The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine have been publishing a wealth of new data on Covid-19. To whom can we turn for the most reliable news and scientific information that is accessible to non-scientists? The CDC, NIAID, virologists, and pandemic disease epidemiologists are among our best sources; these experts have devoted their lives to understanding and responding to pandemic diseases. They are often making public appearances. News that directly and accurately quotes these experts can be a strong source of public information. It also is important for media consumers to understand different levels of specialized knowledge. Numerous health professionals are writing commentaries on Covid-19; however, some have extensive experience in studying, preparing for, and responding to pandemics, while others have less experience. Our health professionals are our best source of information over those who are not trained in the health professions and we can learn extensively from those on the front lines of fighting this disease. For the big picture, pandemic disease experts have been trained to analyze pandemics at the broad societal level and are best equipped to provide the most precise analyses and strongest predictions. Finally, media studies have indicated which sources of news are associated with more informed viewers (see http://publicmind.fdu.edu/ 2012/confirmed/).

COMPASSION AND COMMUNITY VALUES Pandemics are prevented when we focus on the impact of our actions on the community, not ourselves. We can all do our part by staying home. Further, in our campus community, now is the time for flexibility to accommodate those who may become ill, are assisting ill family members, or are financially burdened with work and life disrupted by Coronavirus. Those in need of emergency assistance can gain information on help through services such as the United Way, and those with the means to donate can contribute (see https://www.unitedway.org/our- impact/featured-programs/2-1-1 )

MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH Pandemics can provoke anxiety and isolation can be challenging. Countless fitness and wellness groups offer online courses now and online galleries have opened from NASA to some of the world’s greatest museums. Late night hosts are broadcasting from their homes. We are in this together and thanks to the bright sides of the internet, we do not need to feel alone and can stay physically and mentally well at home.

Sincerely,

The Faculty of the Health Sciences Department