Coronavirus (COVID-19) . . . Questions to Ask, part 2

2020 Questions “From the Heart” Series

The other day when my husband, John, was grocery shopping at a local HEB, he found most all the frozen and canned food shelves were empty. He then checked out the fresh produce and found items about half gone. However, he was happy to find among empty shelves large amounts of kale, beets with tops, and a few oranges left.

Then perusing the bell peppers, he was having a hard time choosing what was left that didn’t look very good. Just then a lady came up to him and handed him a large, beautifully shaped bell pepper. She said she was taking all the good ones and felt guilty doing so when she saw John trying to pick out one that was ok. This act of kindness was much appreciated and has encouraged us to do the same for others as opportunities arise.

My hope is this article series will be an act of kindness to all those who wonder what they can do to keep themselves well, safe, and help others. So, let’s get the latest stats (as of March 16) out of the way with the chart on the right. I encourage you to do further research on your own to gain a balanced perspective on this outbreak.

As stats are covered remember WHO’s flu numbers may help keep things in perspective since global influenza are one billion estimated annual cases, with 290,000 to 650,000 deaths.

U.S. flu cases October to March ran 36-51 million with 22,000 to 50,000 deaths (CDC), mostly with high-risk patients, but most others recovered well.

The latest COVID-19 cases globally are 153,517 (WHO) with 5,735 (3.7%) deaths. John Hopkins (JH) and Worldometer case numbers are higher (181,200/179,978 respectively). Mortality rates average 3.9%. JH and Worldometer have recovery numbers averaging 44% as of March 16, along with active cases averaging 53%.

U.S. COVID-19 cases run 3,487 (CDC) to 4,287 (JH) and 4,534 (Worldometer). Death rates average 1.9%. Recovery rates average 1.6% so far. Be aware testing and monitoring are in our nation’s early stages. Most active cases are mild (99%). Out of 159 U.S. closed cases so far 47% recovered (Worldometer). Texas has 57 to 67 active cases reported (CDC/DSHS-Tx). [stats update March 19]

QUESTIONS TO ASK

As more testing is done resulting in higher COVID-19 cases and deaths being reported, it doesn’t necessarily mean a rapid growth of new cases. And recovery rates will hopefully go higher. Yet, with many activities being canceled, and various state of emergency recommendations/mandates announced, does fear grab you more intensely? Or are you already exploring things you should do for the wellbeing of those you love and care for?

First, let’s agree that fear is a normal human emotion. Depending on our life experiences and personality, the level of fear we have can be more severe. So, this is where more questions need to be explored.

  • How do you handle your fear?
  • Do you hide away, drink a little too much, eat that extra piece of chocolate cake, ignore prudent and practical advice?
  • Do you rely on your faith in God to do what is necessary to prevent, contain, or mitigate this recent outbreak of COVID-19 and the flu?
  • Of all the issues surrounding COVID-19, which one has top priority for yourself and family?
  • What practical things are you already doing to lessen the risk of contracting this or any other illness?
  • What three changes are you doing this week to reduce your fear and risk?
  • How will these changes be a positive, health enhancing experience and remain part of your family’s daily life?

As you ask these questions, there are several things we each can explore to reduce the risk for us all as recommended by the CDC/WHO, conventional medicine, and integrative/functional healthcare providers.

There are of course varying opinions, clinical perspectives, and disagreements from these often “competing” healthcare worlds. We also know the COVID-19 numbers and understanding are in continuous flux. So, keep this in mind as input is provided from various sources and healthcare providers.

PREVENT, CONTAIN, MITIGATE

These three words—prevent, contain, and mitigate—have been WHO and CDC watchwords for the past three months. First review all of the CDC COVID-19 website and Prevention Basics:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Stay home if sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your arm
  • Disinfect often touched objects and surfaces
  • Use hand sanitizer liberally (if ingredients are available, here is a homemade recipe)
  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly
  • Avoid discretionary travel and large crowds.

Also, per CDC and your doctor, take appropriate preventive measures for yourself and those at high risk. Review the entire CDC information offered and apply it to your daily life. And be sure to work with your healthcare providers to prevent, contain, and mitigate any risks you may have. Don’t go it alone.

Keep in mind those life areas we take for granted are now centerstage. All areas need our full attention: travel, schools & childcare, businesses & employers, community & faith-based organizations, large community events/mass gatherings, and healthcare settings. The impact reaches into our nation’s economy, good and services being available, and other venues impacting daily life, not just healthcare.

Keeping the COVID-19 stats in proper perspective to the number of seasonal flu (see chart) may help lessen anxiety. According to the CDC, the healing rate for most is high and recover well at home. Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee State Senate and ER physician states “Patients with mild disease will recover in two weeks. For those with severe disease, about 20%, recovery is three to six weeks.”[xi]

However, we should never assume this recent outbreak is no big deal. According to the CDC, it seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in affected community regions. As Anthony S. Fauci, MD, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stated in Coronavirus Infections—More Than Just the Common Cold, “While the trajectory of this outbreak is impossible to predict, effective response requires prompt action from the standpoint of classic public health strategies to the timely development and implementation of effective countermeasures. . . and the importance of sustained preparedness.”

WHAT DO HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS TELL US?

For now, let’s see what our healthcare providers tell us. As a brief overview, there are basically three worlds of healthcare or wellness: Conventional, Complementary/Alternative (CAM), and Integrative/Functional. And you are in the center of all three.

Over the decades Integrative and CAM have merged to a great extent. For all three wellness worlds, they will recommend you follow WHO, CDC, John Hopkins, federal/state mandates and advice. Some, but not all, may also strongly recommend testing/diagnostic tools and a COVID-19 vaccine whenever they become available.

They may give you general encouragement to make sure you sleep well, eat healthy food, exercise, and manage your stress better. All three worlds may even simply say take extra zinc and vitamin C.

If Conventional providers deem it necessary, they may prescribe something for you. You may already be on certain medications for chronic conditions, and they may monitor you with periodic testing. For our Integrative providers, they may do the same but tend to go further in their recommendations and prescriptions. Yet, with so many products out there and dosages, what do you choose? Fortunately, integrative/functional providers tend to know which products have the quality and dosage needed. It is nice to also see more conventional providers becoming informed and offer appropriate choices for their patients.

One Integrative example comes from a compounding pharmacist, Dr. Leigh Ann Greenberg, RPh, Compounding Pharmacist/Owner, Annie’s Apothecary. On a personal note, Dr. Greenberg actually decided, as a preventive, to self-quarantine after she and her children recently vacationed in San Francisco and Hollywood. This was a staff team decision since her pharmacist, Rachel Krajewski, is pregnant and several employees have immunocompromised family members.

I asked Dr. Greenberg the following questions:

Question 1: How has your practice been affected by this COVID-19 outbreak?

“We have definitely had an increase in immune support supplement sales. . . We also have had some delay on our shipments just due to the volume of orders the companies are receiving on their end. We are ordering immune support in bulk to make sure we have these available for our patients. We have had a couple of patients refill their medications early in order to make sure that they are covered during this unknown time.”

Question 2: What have your patients asked you?

We had a patient tell us that his other medication is not available, so people are beginning to worry about shortages. A lot of patients asking how they can protect themselves with immune support. A few but not many have asked to purchase masks and hand sanitizer. But even our vendors are out of stock. Our compounders need the masks to protect themselves and the medications they make so we have not given nor sold any masks to the public. As far as hand sanitizer, the FDA just released that compounding pharmacies can make hand sanitizer, but I am not sure if we plan on pursuing this or not.”

Question 3: What kind of recommendations do you give your patients to boost their immunity, particularly supplement protocols?

“There are a variety of supplement recommendations we give our patients. My children and I have also been taking the same supplements. Among them are Annie’s D3 5000, Xcellent A 7500 – Vitamin A, IG 26 Plus DF Powder, Zinc Lozenges, Vitamin C 1000mg with Bioflavonoid Complex, Neuro-Immune Infection Control (containing Grapefruit Seed/Grape Seed/Olive Leaf/Elderberry Fruit Extracts/Monolaurin/L-Lysine HCl/Cinnamon Bark Extract), Thieves Essential Oil.” [Dr. Greenberg’s anniesrx.com/articles link provides a list]

Question 4: How have you taken this challenge as an opportunity to help your patients make permanent health enhancing changes?

“We have a handout on this, Top Ten Things to get Healthy and Stay Healthy!, available at the pharmacy: Hydration, Sleep, Exercise, Multivitamin, Fish Oil, Probiotic/fix your gut, Vitamin D3, B12, B-complex, Magnesium, along with testing and balancing hormones (sex, thyroid, cortisol), eliminating unnecessary stressors, and take time for yourself.” 

Question 5: As a healthcare provider, what have you personally done to protect yourself from this and any viral/bacterial outbreak that comes your way?

“For myself and my kids we take Zinc chewables, Vitamin d 3 2000, Annie’s MultiNutrients without iron, CoQ100max Omega, 30 billion cfu probiotic, and Ig 26. I have on hand Viracid with elderberry to initiate if any of us start feeling symptomatic. My pharmacist, Rachel Krajewski, wanted to share her perspective as a pregnant woman who includes “. . . additional vitamin C and diffusing thieves oil/rubbing it on my feet and chest.” 

Question 6: Anything else you would like to add?

“Do not forget compliance and adherence with maintenance supplements and medications! Maintaining is the key rather than in a panic. It takes time to balance your body for optimal performance and defense. So, make a pledge to pursue health year-round!”

In next article, part 3, recommendations will be offered from an integrative MD’s perspective. For integrative providers, there is a wealth of published data they rely on, supporting metabolic/nutritional interventions to boost immunity, particularly for those at high risk. Yet, as with all information we find out there in cyberworld, you and your healthcare providers are the only ones who will know what may be helpful. What worked for your friend may not for you. So, don’t experiment on your own, particularly during these times.

Treasure what you have, ask questions, do the homework, seek professional guidance, and take care of you. I leave you with Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky’s Facebook wisdom words . . .

“Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.”

“Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.”

“Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”

Note: Stats Update as of March 19:
  • Global (WHO) = cases 153 517; deaths 5,735 (3.7%)
  • Global (John Hopkins) = cases 230,055; deaths 9,358 (4%); recovered 84,557 (37%)
  • Global (Worldometer) = cases 236,703; deaths 9,818 (4%); recovered 86,676 (37%)
  • U.S. (CDC) = cases 10,442; deaths 150 (1.4%); 54 state & jurisdictions 54 (50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands)
  • U.S. (John Hopkins) = cases 10,755; deaths & recovered-limited data
  • U.S. (Worldometer) = cases 11,354 (active cases 99% mild); deaths 171 (1.5%); recovered 108 (1%)
  • Texas (DSHS-Tx) = cases reported 143; deaths 3 (2%)
  • For stats for San Antonio.gov COVID-19; hotline available, 210-207-5779 (Monday-Friday 8am-5pm)

(The numbers reported in Texas (DSHS) “…may differ from what’s being reported at the local level for two reasons. Local jurisdictions receive the initial laboratory results and may report them publicly before reporting those cases to DSHS. Some jurisdictions may report cases diagnosed or treated in their area, even if the person lives in another county.” So, call or go online to city or local region.


[i] WHO Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report – 55, Situation Reports.
[ii] John Hopkins Interactive Map, COVID-19.
[iii] Worldometers COVID-19 Stats.
[iv] CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S.
[v] DSHSCurrent Situation: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‑19) Outbreak and News Update.
[vi] John Hopkins Interactive Map, COVID-19.
[vii] Worldometers COVID-19 Stats.
[viii] WHO Global Influenza Strategy 2019-2030.
[ix] CDC Preliminary In Season Flu Estimates.
[x] CDC Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States — 2018–2019 influenza season.
[xi] Rep. Mark Green Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19). February 26, 2020.