Current Publishing compiled a Q&A with Dr. Christopher Belcher, director of infectious disease at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent
What, in your opinion, should residents of north-suburban areas of Indianapolis expect the best-case scenario to be for ending restrictions and seeing the pandemic fade? And what about the worst-case scenario?
At this point, it is all speculation. We have seen other countries reopen after a few months, although new cases often continue. There are four other human coronaviruses that tend to circulate from fall to spring, which gives some hope for summer. In the worst case scenario, the virus may circulate through the summer like we saw in 2009 with the H1N1 pandemic.
What do you say to residents that refuse to practice social distancing?
It can be hard to see people who are not social distancing, but without knowing their motivation, it’s not fair to judge them. I prefer to gently remind them that there is a pandemic going on and that we need to take steps to protect ourselves and our population’s most vulnerable, such as the elderly.
How do I know if I’m a carrier if I’m showing no symptoms and never have?
Infections without symptoms do seem to happen, but until we have blood tests to show who has had it in the past, we cannot say how often it happens. The nasal swab only looks for current infection, and is not often done on people who are well. This is why social distancing is important for everyone, including people who are well.
How long would I be a carrier?
The virus is often detectable for about a week after someone’s symptoms have improved. In cases without symptoms, we expect a similar course.
Is a 6-foot perimeter enough for personal protection?
Yes. The large droplets created by coughing and sneezing fall to the ground within 3 to 6 feet. Some hospital procedures may make smaller aerosols that travel farther, but these are not in public settings.
What hasn’t been discussed nationally or locally that would be helpful, in your opinion, to the residents?
Besides social distancing, we need to remember to cough into our shoulders or sleeves, not your hands. A tissue is also acceptable, but should be a one-time use and discarded immediately. If you are home, soap and water are readily available and even more effective than hand sanitizer. While technology may be intimidating to some, providers are working quickly to make video visits easy and accessible during this time. If you need medical care, call your provider’s office or visit ascension.org/onlinecare to get care without exposure.