March 20th Bulletin

Equinox Greetings!

It’s a waiting game for us doctors right now.  For you too.  And it’s challenging.  It’s not easy to know that there is something on the horizon but to not be able to start engaging with it.  When we started testing last week at the office, it felt great.  We were doing something!

We have all scrambled to prepare and hunker down.  Now there’s a bit of a lull.  Japan is the same. People are wondering where the surge of cases is.  We keep hearing that we are on a part of the curve where things will accelerate soon, that it’s the calm before the storm.

In any case all this studying and learning we are doing creates an intellectual picture of the illness. It’s induces anxiety to have only this and no experience of it.  It’s all head and no heart. This changes once we know one person who gets it and hear their story directly.  It’s harder in many ways to have an intellectual relationship with no experience.  The beginning is coming.  Don’t fear it though.  Just prepare. Outwardly and inwardly.  We are going to find a way through it together by helping each other.  And we will come out having learned and experienced so much and having grown immensely.
Cases and Testing

As of yesterday the DPH reported 18 cases in Berkshire County and 328 in the state.  Testing still lags.  BMC still doesn’t have a fully opened outdoor testing site yet.  It is testing hospital employees, but that is it.  I am willing to test your friends and contacts, if they can’t get tests.  Have them call us.  It’s important to know that we had 8 or 9 patients with cold symptoms and they all were negative. We are still seeing the normal colds.  Everything is not Corona out there right now.  But they are not all negative and it’s really good to know who’s got it.  So my opinion is to test every excuse to test.

Ibuprofen = Bad

We don’t know exactly why or if it will pan out to be true, but many scientists are getting behind the apparent association of NSAIDs (Aleve, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Mobic) and increased risk of severe disease from Coronavirus.  If you can, let them fall out of your repertoire.  Definitely don’t take it for the sole reason of treating symptoms of Corona virus if you contract it or a cold that could be it.  If you take it for a chronic condition, don’t stop it without reviewing with me, but the idea is the least amount that you need is the right amount.  Golden milk, an anti-inflammatory drink, might be an alternative to consider.  It can, for example, help with pain from osteoarthritis if taken regularly:

  • Heat 2 cups light, unsweetened coconut milk (or almond)
  • Add 1/2 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • Add 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh turmeric
  • Add 3-4 black peppercorns
  • Heat all ingredients in a saucepan
  • Stir well
  • Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes.
  • Strain and sweeten to taste (if desired).

Drinking that daily might help you get off the ibuprofen.  It’s even better with an anti-inflammatory diet.  For fever and aches if you do get sick, the standard recommends (acetaminophen) Tylenol if you want to lower the fever or try to feel better.  I don’t like Tylenol any more than ibuprofen, but it’s safer with coronavirus.  Apis Belladonna (homeopathic from Uriel) or lemon calf wraps are good fever interventions.


This is also known as Plaquenil. It’s a malaria pill that is used in Rheumatoid arthritis.  It has shown activity against Corona in the lab.  A short course when you are diagnosed with it might become the norm in Corona cases.  I don’t recommend stockpiling it because we will hurt everyone’s access to it if we all storm the pharmacy….plus it’s experimental.  But, it’s good to know there are medicines out there that can make a difference.

New Corona facts 

A study published in NEJM this week examined the virus in five environmental conditions (aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard). It was found the virus can live on surfaces in a lab for up to 72 hours. Plastic and stainless steel saw the virus last longest- up to 72 hours.  It could stay on cardboard for 24 hours and a copper surface for only 4 hours. The virus is aerosolized (remains in the air) for 3+ hours. The study was only 3 hours long though…so we don’t know how much longer.. It’s quite contagious and the aerosolized nature sheds some light perhaps on why to is so contagious.  Do your social distancing.
We also learned that the average incubation period is 5 days (range 2-14).  (97.5% were symptomatic by 12 days).  This supports the 14 day quarantine idea for after high risk exposures.

Good Ideas

Some of the grocery stores (including Guido’s) are opening an hour early for senior citizens, certainly fresh from a good cleaning.  This is a good time for the most at risk to tend to needed tasks.  Nice thinking!
We have a small panel of folks who have volunteered to help.  If you want assistance let us know and maybe we can let someone do their good deed of the day and help you at the same time.  Home is the safest spot for the vulnerable.
Communities are doing nice things and we are seeing reports of this.  I’ve read of a young person circulating her contact to elderly neighbors via flyer so they could have a chat.
And these suggestions from a member:

“Pay it forward: If you are able, consider giving an “advance” on 5 or 10 sessions to your trainer, massage therapist or any other friendly vendor whose life was more disrupted by this virus – maybe to your cleaning person or even hairdresser. Many people have quickly been thrown into dire straights and can use the help now.
Also, if stuck at home but have a yard – go outside and prepare the garden (many greens can do in really soon, like probably now). Not only is it more revitalizing than you can imagine until you actually stick your hands in the dirt, smell Spring’s life in the air, and realize that in a few short weeks you will be eating your own fresh greens, with an abundance of peas right behind. Maybe you can skip a few grocery outings if you grow your own!
I called my local garden center, who will take an order and credit card over the phone, then leave the flats of plants, seed packets and bags of compost (or whatever) at a designated time and place in the parking lot, and I can pick up with gloves in safety.
Never gardened before? It is REALLY easy. Look it up up beginner tips on the internet, and prepare for much needed pleasure, and more than a bit of self-sufficiency.
This year, I am buying extra packs of lettuce, chard, kale (etc.) right now – so in a week or two at most I can start picking copious baby green salads from the outer leaves while new leaves appear almost overnight for the next salad. Nature’s quick regrowth is a miracle that brings optimism!”
We are lucky to be able to go outside and get some fresh air.
Pulse oximeter
You know the oxygen saturation measuring device that you put on your finger?  I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea to have one of these in the home stockpile. A cheap one runs for under $15. Consider getting one to help monitor yourself or family.
Cold Arrest
And you have to listen to this one. A man wrote a book in the 80s in pursuit of the cure for the common cold.  It’s relevant here.  He points out that coronavirus is wimpy.  We know it washes away and can’t last very long on surfaces compared to other bugs.  We talked previously about how an ambient temp of 77 degrees makes it more difficult for it to stay on surfaces. Several people replied with a question as to how it was that the virus survives in the body at 98.6.
The answer is: separate from a living organism they become more susceptible. They still don’t love the heat in the body and they enter through the coldest part of the system: the respiratory tract and aim for the sinuses and lungs- more airy and less blood saturated.  Our blood carries our warmth.  This book (Cold Arrest) presents evidence that if our sinuses and respiratory tract are warmed up the virus can’t survive- even if established, even if you become symptomatic.  The author finds that the respiratory tract has to be warmed by ambient temperature of 133 degrees Fahrenheit.  Think sauna or a hot dessert… or hairdryer!  The book lays out a preventative technique and a treatment regimen with a hairdryer and a water spray bottle.  Check it out:

He’s been around with this idea for decades and has compiled all sorts of experiences with it.  I like things like this that have a low potential for harm and that can empower you to help yourself.  It’s strengthening. It’s calming to have ideas and tools at your disposal.  And the world benefits from a calm and strong YOU.  What are you doing today that builds you up?  It’s important.  The world wants more of your good ideas and kind actions.

See today as an opportunity!

In solidarity,

Dr Cooney