What the U.S. is doing about the new coronavirus and some things YOU can do

February 10, 2020

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can infect birds and mammals, including humans, and is traditionally associated with the common mild cold in people.

Sometimes coronaviruses that infect animals, including camels, bats, cattle, cats and snakes, can evolve and make people sick then become a new human coronavirus.

Some examples of animal coronaviruses that crossed over and spread person-to-person are the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and now the new 2019-nCoV (a.k.a. COVID-19.)

As of 17-Feb-2020, authorities in China say the death toll from COVID-19 is over 1,700 (well surpassing the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak), with most deaths occurring in the Chinese province of Hubei (esp. Wuhan city) where the coronavirus was first discovered.

Globally there are (now) about 693,282 confirmed cases of the virus so COVID-19 (formerly 2019-nCoV) has over a 4% mortality rate as of 30-Mar-2020 globally (and about 2% in the U.S. as of 30-Mar). And this outbreak is far from over as millions of Chinese returned to work after the extended Lunar New Year break ended. But realize the Spanish flu of 1918, which was the last true global pandemic, had a “case fatality rate” or CFR of 2.5%, and it killed an estimated 50 – 60 million people.

The fatality rates for MERS was about 35% and SARS was around 14-15% which is why those coronaviruses were very concerning, but countries were able to contain things in both cases so thankfully neither became a pandemic.

Interestingly Live Science says one group has escaped with minimal damage so far: children. Other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, also showed this pattern. Currently the median age of 2019-nCoV patients is between 49 and 56 years old, according to a recent JAMA article.

Symptoms and Complications

COVID-19 infection can range from mild, with no symptoms or minor symptoms, to severe or even deadly. The symptoms usually start between 2 to 14+ days after you get infected and can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties

It can also cause pneumonia and progress to multiple organ failure or death in some severe cases.

There is a test for 2019-nCoV [COVID-19], but there’s no vaccine or specific treatment yet other than medical care to help relieve symptoms, although Gilead’s experimental drug called remdesivir is being trialed in some cases.

As Dr. Sircus reports, some patients who at first appeared mildly or moderately ill then took a turn for the worse several days or even a week into their illness. The median time from their first symptoms to when they became short of breath was 5 days; to hospitalization, 7 days; and to severe breathing trouble, 8 days. Experts say that pattern means patients must be carefully monitored, and it is not safe to assume that someone who seems to be doing well early on is out of the woods. But, as Dr. Sircus says, “remember at least 95 percent of people survive it! Cancer patients should be so lucky.”

At a time when many are rightly concerned about coronavirus — of which there are just a handful of cases in the U.S. so far — the CDC is also warning Americans not to drop their guard about influenza, which has caused at least 19 million illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations, and 10,000 deaths so far this season.

What is being done

On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern about the current epidemic of 2019-nCoV in mainland China. The following day, HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared 2019-nCoV a public health emergency domestically and ordered any U.S. citizens returning from China’s Hubei province to be quarantined for up to 2 weeks to provide proper medical care and health screening.

The immediate risk to the U.S. is currently low, and a presidential proclamation in place suspends entry of foreign nationals who have visited China within the past 14 days into America. The CDC has also put into place measures to detect this virus among those who are allowed entry into the U.S. who are entering the country within 14 days of having been in Hubei province or mainland China. 

All of these passengers are being directed to 1 of 11 U.S. airports where American citizens and exempted persons who have been in Hubei province will have an additional health assessment. They will be screened for fever, cough, difficulty breathing. 

  • If symptomatic, American citizens and those who are exempt will be transferred for further medical evaluation. They will not be able to complete their itinerary and will be isolated for 14 days. 
  • If asymptomatic, American citizens and those who are exempt will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at or near that location. 

The list of 11 airports are…

  • San Francisco International Airport, California;
  • Los Angeles International Airport, California; 
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia;
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Hawaii;
  • O’Hare airport, Illinois;
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Michigan;
  • Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey;
  • JFK, New York;
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas;
  • Washington Dulles International Airport, Virginia;
  • and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Washington.

The Department of Defense has identified housing support at 4 bases for up to 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas travel. Currently DOD is housing 198 people at March Air Reserve Base, California, but DOD is not involved with treatment or observation of those at the facility; Health and Human Services is doing that.

The 4 bases are…

  • Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California;
  • Travis Air Force Base, California;
  • 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute in Fort Carson, Colorado;
  • and Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

So what can people do?

First – don’t panic since Americans are still currently low risk and the focus right now is on travelers returning from places where this disease rate is growing.

And as mentioned above, it is still active flu season here in the U.S. which has sickened millions and killed 10,000 people so far. Use the below common sense tips from both CDC and our preparedness and first aid manual to help reduce the spread of germs and infectious diseases.  

CDC guidance

  • If you haven’t already, consider getting a flu shot and take flu antivirals if prescribed.
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
  • Facemask should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, in order to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks (and eye protection!) is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings at home or in a health care facility.
  • Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. An easy way to mark the time is to hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice while scrubbing.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Stay home when you are sick or becoming sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue (not your hands) and throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Practical precautions

  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Seek medical care right away if you have both symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath and have either recently returned from China or have direct exposure to others diagnosed with a coronavirus.
  • Before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Cover mouth and nose with tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed.
  • Boost your immune system.
  • Clean counters, doorknobs, fixtures, phones, remotes, nurse call buttons, linens, etc. often with a bleach solution.
  • Don’t share silverware, razors, clothing, towels, or bedding and wash objects with soap and hot water.

Doing your part

Additional Resources:

CDC: Coronavirus site

CDC: FAQs about 2019-nCoV/COVID-19

World Health Organization: Coronavirus site

Dr Sircus: Treatments for Viral Infection

The Survival Mom: The truth about disinfectants: Q&A with an expert










May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month

May 22, 2013

May is celiac awareness monthAs some of you may know, Bill has been battling many serious health issues over the past 17+ years, and one of the core underlying problems is he has Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) Disease.

And since May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, we wanted to pass along some information about this hereditary disease in case it can help others.

For those of you not familiar with Celiac Disease (a.k.a. CD or celiac sprue), it’s a genetic issue and it’s not contagious.

villi damage in small intestine due to celiac disease image by Mayo FdnBasically if Bill ingests any type of gluten, his immune system creates antibodies that attack and damage or destroy the villi lining the small intestine so his body cannot properly absorb basic nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and, in some cases, water and bile salts.

Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in ALL forms of wheat (including durum, semolina, spelt, Kamut®, einkorn and faro) and related grains rye, barley and triticale and MUST be eliminated.

Even tiny traces of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. And, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.

Did you know…

  • Celiac Disease is NOT a food allergy – it is an autoimmune disease. Food allergies, including wheat allergy, are conditions that people can sometimes grow out of. This is not the case with Celiac Disease.
  • according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, 1 out of 133 people in the U.S. are affected with celiac disease?
  • the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness says about 83% of Americans who have celiac disease are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed?
  • CD is a hereditary disease and occurs in 5% to 22% of the offspring and siblings of a person with the disease.

Symptoms and complications

Celiac disease can appear at any time in a person’s life according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. In adults, the disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth. CD is a multi-system, multi-symptom disorder. Symptoms vary and are not always gastrointestinal (GI). GI symptoms can often mimic other bowel disorders.

celiac disease symptoms chart by glutendudeMost people with the disease have similar symptoms or issues although some people with CD have no symtoms at all. Celiac disease can cause abdominal pain, gas, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation (or both). It may also cause irritability or depression, anemia, joint pain, muscle cramps, skin rash (or small red bumps), mouth sores, dental and bone disorders, tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy), general weakness and fatigue, weight loss and stunted growth (in children).

Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients (malabsorption) that occurs with celiac disease can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment.

And the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness explains undiagnosed celiac disease left untreated can increase your risk of other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, thyroid disease and T-cell lymphoma or other cancers.

No treatment can cure celiac disease. However, you can effectively manage celiac disease by changing your diet.

Celiac disease versus gluten-intolerance

There is a big difference between people suffering with celiac disease and those who are gluten-intolerant. If someone with CD ingests a tiny amount of gluten it will trigger their immune system causing damage in their small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients. Basically it could set them back weeks or months since it takes time for the villi to repair itself and the inflammation to tamp down.

On the other hand, if someone who is gluten-intolerant (a.k.a. non-celiac gluten sensitivity or NCGS) ingests gluten they may experience discomfort like bloating, diarrhea or abdominal pain, but it does not damage their small intestine.

Read ALL labels and not just food stuffs

When a loved one is diagnosed with celiac disease you diligently begin reading ingredient lists on everything. We were shocked how many canned, bottled, processed, packaged, frozen, dried and ready-made foods or sauces have gluten in them.

Not only do you need to watch for things with wheat, barley, malt or rye … but things like flavorings, dextrin, caramel coloring, HVP, etc. may be questionable depending on what countries they were made in or what ingredients are used. And oats are an issue since they may have been cross-contaminated with wheat during growing, harvesting and processing.

Also realize just because somethings says it’s “Gluten Free” doesn’t mean it is. The product could have been processed or packaged on shared equipment or in a facility that also processes wheat or other gluten products. Even though manufacturers clean machines, gluten can get down into little crevices and it is airborne.

GFCO logoBut there are products that are packaged and processed in dedicated, gluten-free facilities or adhere to the Celiac Sprue Association (or GFCO or QAI and NFCA) standards to obtain a certified GF seal or label. But even those products can have minute traces of 5 to 10 parts per million when tested for wheat.

The best alternative is to avoid processed foods altogether and make your own meals at home so you’ll know exactly what’s in them! We currently do that although there are some GF products we use in our preparedness kits, stores and snacks.

Also, be aware there are non-food products that may contain gluten like…

  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Lipstick, lip gloss or balm
  • Soaps, bath salts
  • Lotions and creams
  • Vitamins and prescription drugs
  • Hair products (some shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, etc.)
  • Sunscreen
  • Cleaning products
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Stamps, envelopes, stickers
  • Chewing gum and many types of candy
  • Communion wafers
  • Pet food
  • Art supplies (e.g. paints, glue, clay) or play-dough

And of course beer, grain alcohols and the list goes on. Many companies and restaurants are offering gluten-free products but again, always check labels and/or ask the manufacturers’ websites or chefs if products are made or packaged on shared equipment, cooking surfaces, etc.

Learn more

Below are just a few examples of reputable sites to learn about Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerance symptoms, risk factors, tests and diagnosis techniques, support groups and more. And remember, if you or someone you know has or possibly has CD, please encourage family members to talk to their physician or learn more about the disease and risks.

Celiac Disease Foundation
Celiac Support Association
Celiac.com (has a forum, GF mall, etc.)
Mayo Clinic’s Celiac disease section
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)
NIH’s National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse


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