The vast majority of patients testing positive are on the road to good health, Beaumont officials tell JN – but medications are still unproven.
As the spread of the coronavirus continues to paralyze the country, the medical world has been deeply challenged with the rise of positive cases. However, according to Dr. Sanford Vieder, D.O., Director of Emergency Trauma Center at Beaumont in Farmington Hills, “roughly 98.5% of all people who are contracting coronavirus are recovering and doing well in the long run.”
With testing supplies scarce in Southeast Michigan, Vieder encourages the public to stay home if you’re sick and only come to the hospital if you are experiencing severe shortness of breath.
“The number one thing that all of our public can do is to heed the warnings and recommendations to limit your time out in public, practicing social distancing and, of course, properly hand washing,” Vieder said. “These are the mainstays of avoiding transmission and I continue to support the emergency declarations that Governor Whitmer has done.”
Vieder is hopeful that if the public continues to follow Governor Whitmer’s declarations, there will be a decline, or a flattening of the curve, of the amount of COVID-19 cases. For Vieder, the flattening of the curve is what the medical community needs the most right now.
“Currently at Beaumont in Farmington Hills, our emergency department has a number of coronavirus–positive patients and our in-patient facility is at capacity,” Vieder said. “Not necessarily at 100% with coronavirus patients, but certainly a lot who are admitted or are being held in the emergency department because we don’t have the adequate number of beds.”
Dr. Jeffrey Band, a semi-retired epidemiologist and the former chief of infectious diseases and international medicine at Beaumont Hospital, is also in favor of Governor Whitmer’s stance on battling the virus, and agrees that flattening the curve will enable hospitals to care for patients in the best manner possible.
“When our hospitals are overrun, the mortality will increase,” Band told the Jewish News. “If you look at Spain and Italy, the medical world couldn’t keep up with the number of cases and the mortality rate hit almost 10%. Here in the U.S., however, the mortality rate has been 1.2%.”
Band also believes that this outbreak of COVID-19 is “significantly worse than SARS.”
“The last pandemic in modern day history of major significance of 1957 with the Asian flu and most of us either weren’t around or were too young to remember what happened at that point of time,” Band said. “Millions of millions of cases occurred worldwide and there were a number of hospitalizations and deaths.
“Again, I remain an optimist and I am hoping this will peak sometime no later than mid-May early June and we will see a dwindling of cases. I don’t believe this will disappear completely, but there will be very few cases,” he added.
According to Band, this is not the first coronavirus we have seen. Approximately 20% of viral respiratory illnesses that are diagnosed in the wintertime are caused by coronaviruses. Band is also well-aware that this variation of coronavirus will come back with the seasons, but remains optimistic that it will not be as extreme as the world is seeing now.
Band is also remaining positive that when this type of coronavirus resurfaces, there will be medication to help reduce the severity of the illness.
“The only experience right now that exists with medications are based largely on test tube data and very limited anecdotal experience from physicians,” Band said. “No clinical trials have been conducted yet. We don’t know yet if hydroxychloroquine with or without other medications truly works. It has not been studied in a clinical setting yet.”
President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that “hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin [an antibiotic] taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hydroxychloroquine is a oral prescription drug that has been used for treatment of malaria and certain inflammatory conditions. Hydroxychloroquine is currently under investigation in clinical trials for the treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19.
“There are no currently available data from Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) to inform clinical guidance on the use, dosing, or duration of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of COVID-19,” read the CDC’s statement.
There is another medication, Remdesivir, which is used primarily for patients who are progressing towards the point of requiring mechanical ventilation. Band says there is already a shortage of this drug, but it is currently being used in clinical trials.
Remdesivir is an antiviral medicine made by Gilead, an American pharmaceutical company. The drug has to be given intravenously, is experimental and not yet been approved for prescriptions. It is currently in the clinical trial phase and can only be administered to patients who are a part of these trials.
While hospital staff are witnessing some of the worst cases of COVID-19, community members are continuing to show support for their medical staff by bringing some much–needed positivity.
“We have had a number of meals show up anonymously. Just the other night we had 25 pizzas delivered to the emergency department,” Vieder said. “The public has really been wonderful about verbally giving us their support, and that means the most to the front line troops that are dealing with this.”
A local construction company that is currently not working due to the “stay home, stay safe” declaration dropped off a large number of N-95 masks for medical staff.
“Caring for our community is definitely something we do with passion, and we will continue to be here for our community members — but having that extra support from the public is wonderful and uplifting,” Vieder said.
If you or your business would like to donate or help the medical staff, Beaumont has created a page on their website.