INTERVIEW: San Angelo's Top Doc Says Coronavirus Will Trouble Us for 10-12 Months
SAN ANGELO, TX — Dr. James Vretis, MD answered some tough questions about the COVID-19 crisis as it pertains to San Angelo on Thursday in a video produced by the City of San Angelo Public Affairs office. City Public Affairs Communications Coordinator Lorelei Day interviewed him
Dr. Vretis is a Shannon Medical Center emergency doctor in addition to the doctor who is advising City of San Angelo and Tom Green County about COVID-19. He said he and the rest of the world have learned much about the coronavirus and the disease it causes. They are still learning, he said.
“It’s a real sneaky sort of disease,” he said. “That’s what’s bad about it. Eighty-five percent of the people who get the disease don’t know they have it.”
Only 12-13 percent of those infected get uncomfortable symptoms, he continues. Three percent get sicker than one would with regular pneumonia. And the ones who get so sick with an upper respiratory disease need to be put on a ventilator. A COVID-19 patient will need a ventilator for weeks while a traditional pneumonia patient may only need one for a few days. This is one reason why officials at all levels are concerned about the use of resources to cure patients badly affected by COVID-19.
WATCH the full interview:
Vretis said that in the U.S., unlike what was witnessed in China and Italy, COVID-19 is not just a disease that affects the elderly. He said in the U.S. the disease is causing illness in younger people.
“We are not seeing this as just an old folks’ disease,” he said.
Dr. Vretis explained that the coronavirus can suspend in the air for up to three hours from sneezing or coughing. This is why the six-foot separation between people is so important. Remember, he said, 85 percent of the people who are contagious are not showing symptoms.
The virus can live on copper surfaces, a copper door knob perhaps, for 6 to 8 hours; 48 hours on cardboard; and 6 days on some types of plastics.
Testing is taking a week or more because the labs are limited in capacity, he said. For example, at the public lab in Lubbock, only 10-25 tests can be performed a day. The Lubbock lab serves more than just San Angelo. Shannon Medical Center also has some private labs it can use for testing, he said.
The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is to stay away from other people, he said. He added the other guidelines like sanitizing everything, washing hands, and not touching your face.
The coronavirus problem will be with us for 10 to 12 months, he said. "That's just enough time for it to run around the world twice."
Watch the full video above for more.
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