COVID-19 Tip Sheet: Story Ideas From Johns Hopkins

03/17/2020
The following are various story ideas regarding the COVID-19 illness. To interview Johns Hopkins experts on these topics or others, contact JHMedia@jhmi.edu.


TOO SOON TO CLOSE? WHEN TO START SOCIAL DISTANCING

As the new coronavirus spreads across the country, lockdowns, school closures and cancellation of large events have already begun. This “social distancing” lessens the possibility of large-scale virus transfer and aims to slow transmission of the virus to a rate that does not overwhelm clinics, hospitals and the broader public health system. However, history shows us that these techniques are only effective in areas where transmission rates are still low — in other words, where the effects of the epidemic haven’t really been felt yet. Jeremy Greene, M.D., Ph.D., M.A., professor of history of medicine, notes that as social distancing becomes a part of everyday life, it is important to consider that what may seem to be premature closings are the only ones that have worked. It’s a history lesson that just might save your life.

ATHLETES AND COVID-19: WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW

As COVID-19 continues to disrupt everyday activities around the world, American collegiate athletic conferences and associations are altering regular season and tournament schedules to avoid large gatherings of fans. MLB, the NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons, while other sports are considering arrangements to keep fans safe. What about the athletes? What precautions should they take before, during and after competition? Do older athletes have different issues than younger ones? Geoffrey Dreher, D.O., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and Johns Hopkins University athletics physician, has advice for amateur athletes to follow during this COVID-19 outbreak.

COPING WITH POST-INTENSIVE CARE SYNDROME

One of the possible repercussions of COVID-19 is acute respiratory failure. In severe cases, this often leads to patients going into an intensive care unit (ICU), and it may require mechanical ventilation. “Severe respiratory failure can cause anxiety and confused thinking in patients, which in turn may cause family members to experience distress,” says Megan Hosey, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“After leaving the hospital,” says Dale Needham M.D., Ph.D., critical care physician and medical director of the Critical Care Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Program at Johns Hopkins, “patients with such severe illness may experience ongoing muscle weakness, changes in mood, or anxiety, and problems with thinking and memory, collectively referred to as post-intensive care syndrome (PICS).” Hosey and Needham can discuss how early rehabilitation interventions in the ICU and careful follow-up after hospital discharge can help reduce aspects of PICS. They can also provide useful tips to help patients and families cope with the impact of severe illness.

GERIATRICS AND COVID-19: WHY SHOULD OLDER ADULTS TAKE SPECIAL CARE?

Some older adults don’t like the term “senior citizen” because they don’t feel old. Nowadays, seniors are more active — they travel and take up many fun activities to boost their social interactions. However, with the coronavirus rapidly spreading throughout the U.S., will the fear of catching it put a damper on lifestyles? “Seniors need to be vigilant to not expose themselves unnecessarily, especially those with high risk factors, like liver, kidney or heart disease,” says geriatrician Alicia Arbaje, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. “For older adults, the best defense is to stay healthy, and excellent nutrition and staying hydrated are key.” Arbaje can discuss the health and care of older adults, and alternatives and tips for seniors who wish to continue living an active lifestyle through this health crisis.

JOHNS HOPKINS DEVELOPS CORONAVIRUS TEST

According to data from Johns Hopkins Medicine, 80% to 85% of people who are infected with the new coronavirus will have mild to no symptoms. That makes widespread testing very important, so doctors at The Johns Hopkins Hospital have created their own coronavirus test. Karen Carroll, M.D., and Heba Mostafa, Ph.D., M.B.B.Ch., are busy in their lab working to expand the testing capabilities, and they are not available for media interviews at this time. But they participated in a recorded briefing. Replay of the teleconference is available until March 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET by dialing (402) 970-0847 and entering the access code 8072259#. A video is also available here: https://youtu.be/9ZpNuhqB1Qo.

For more information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Johns Hopkins Medicine, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from around the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.