Watch Replay: Sept. 1 Coronavirus Q&A Facebook Live

Watch the replay of University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics Chief Medical Officer Theresa M. Brennan, MD, answering questions about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in a Facebook Live broadcast from Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

Read the video takeaways:

On reading COVID-19 data, differentiating between the number of cases and number of hospitalizations

  • It is important to recognize what each individual number means. Iowa is a small state, so a small number of cases or hospitalizations has a big impact.
  • Testing rates directly impact data points. Johnson County is doing a lot of testing to ensure positivity rate data is accurate.
  • For members of the public, watch the number of cases per 100,000 closely. As those positivity rates increase, you can get an idea of how prevalent it is in your community.
  • Health care providers care about hospitalization rates because that impacts their resources.

What can you do to help?

We are all tired of this virus, but unfortunately it is not tired of us. COVID-19 is spread when someone does not have symptoms, so wearing a mask is like wearing your seatbelt for COVID-19 prevention. You can trust that you will drive safely and not get in an accident, but you can’t guarantee it.

Be vigilant with your safety precautions, especially if you live in Johnson County or another area where the positivity rates are very high.

How else can we prevent the spread?

  • Encourage friends and family to practice wearing face coverings, washing their hands, and staying physically distant from others. You should do these things even if you’re outdoors or exercising.
  • We protect others by protecting ourselves, so our communities will all benefit from our vigilance.
  • Take ownership and empower yourself to do the things that you know you can do.
  • When we all distanced, wore masks if at work, and practiced hand hygiene in March, we got results in Johnson County. We need to repeat those behaviors again to get volumes down.

On COVID-19 testing

  • UI Hospitals & Clinics is testing everyone who is symptomatic after they complete a video visit with a provider.
  • From our asymptomatic testing, we have seen the vast majority of patients test positive within days of exposure to COVID-19.

On comparing COVID-19 to the flu

  • Internationally and nationally, the number of COVID-19 cases are far greater than a bad flu season.
  • The number of hospitalizations and deaths we have seen are also higher.
  • As far as death certificates go, even if another issue is listed as the cause of death, COVID-19 worsens many conditions and may increase the likelihood for death.
  • Even though the flu can make you sick or have to go to the hospital just like COVID-19, we are seeing some differences:
    • Frequently after discharge, patients still experience symptoms from COVID-19. We aren’t sure if those will remain or if they will go away. Those symptoms include:
      • Fatigue
      • Shortness of breath
      • Chest discomfort
    • There are long-term consequences from COVID-19 that do not occur with the flu. We opened our Respiratory Illness Follow-Up Clinic to help with complications and symptoms after COVID-19.
    • Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are much more severe and prolonged than hospitalizations for the flu.
  • UI Hospitals & Clinics is preparing for a tough flu season this year, so it is really important that we do everything we can as a community to keep COVID-19 cases going down.
  • Get your flu shot to make sure you are as protected as possible.

On commercial flights

  • Many airlines are doing a great job, but flying is still additional exposure. We do not recommend flying if you are at high-risk for COVID-19 infection.
  • You will have to do your own risk benefit analysis before making the choice. If you choose to fly:
    • Wear a mask.
    • Bring hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
    • Choose shorter flights rather than longer ones.
    • Stay socially distant from other passengers.
    • Look up airline COVID-19 responses before choosing to book.