Yesterday, at 4:00 PM ET, Dr. Vivek Murthy hosted a live Q&A session on NBA Twitter to answer questions and discuss the latest developments around the coronavirus pandemic - COVID-19.
Dr. Murthy was the 19th Surgeon General of the United States and advisor to the NBA.
Here's a recap of his Q&A discussion:
Q: How can someone pass along coronavirus when asymptomatic? If not sneezing or coughing, how can they infect others?
Dr. Murthy: What we know now is that a surprising number of people with coronavirus, don't have any symptoms at all and they can possibly pass the virus on to others in this asymptomatic state.
The way this happens is that respiratory droplets, so fluid that comes from our lungs and other parts of our respiratory system, can be expelled even when we talk. If that fluid gets on our hands and if we touch somebody else, they are at risk of getting infected. If we also touch other surfaces like counter-tops or our phones and then somebody else touches that, they can pick up the virus from that as well.
That's why it's really important that we recognize that as we learn more about the coronavirus, it's not just people who have symptoms, who are coughing with fevers and who are sick, but many people who don't have any symptoms can transmit the virus.
That's why we all have to take caution to make sure we are protecting ourselves and each other from the spread of the virus.
Q: If you get the virus, quarantine for 2 weeks and then you're symptom-free, is there a possibility you can catch it again?
Dr. Murthy: We don't yet know if people who get the virus are fully protected from ever getting it again. What we know is that when we look at other viruses, that people can get the cold again, they can get the flu again, from season to season, and with all immunity that we develop to viruses, they can last for a short period of time or for a long period of time.
So, time will tell and as we study this virus more, we'll hopefully get a better understanding of how protected you are from getting the virus a second time around but because there is so much uncertainty around this, it's important that we all take precautions whether we have had the virus or not to protect ourselves by washing our hands and by ensuring that if we are going to go out, that we are careful about not touching our face and that if we are sick, we certainly stay at home to protect other people from getting ill.
Q: How long does it take to recover? Does it vary based on age group and general health of each patient?
Dr. Murthy: The amount of time it takes to recover from the coronavirus differs widely. Some people will get the virus and have no symptoms at all, other people will have mild symptoms like a low-grade fever or a mild cough and others will get really ill and will need to be hospitalized.
What we know is that a large percentage of people who get the virus, something close to 15-20%, will end up in the hospital and there, it can take weeks for them to recover.
So, this virus can be quite severe in people. It seems that people, who are older and have other chronic medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease, may be at greater risk for more severe infection.
Q: Will there be subsequent waves of infections?
Dr. Murthy: Right now, we are in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus infection but it is possible there may be second waves and third waves. With other viruses, like the cold or with the flu, we know that every year we deal with waves of this. So, we have to be prepared that COVAD-19, this new coronavirus, could come back again.
That's why it's especially important that we do everything possible now to make sure we are prepared for the future. That means working hard to develop vaccines and medications that could treat this virus.
Making sure that our hospital systems and doctor's offices are well-equipped to both test for the virus and treat and support people when they get sick.
Q: For those who sometimes struggle with being alone or feeling lonely, do you have any advice for helping get through this pandemic?
Dr. Murthy: This is a really hard time for a lot of people, who are separated from their family and their friends, who can't see work colleagues or classmates in school because we are all physically distancing from one another.
One of the things I worry about in particular is that this can be a lonely time for people. We know that many people in our country [USA] and around the world struggle with loneliness on a regular basis and times like this can make that worse. But I think if we approach this moment, in the right way, if we are intentional about focusing on our relationships, we may in fact, be able to use this time to strengthen our connections with other people.
There are a few simple things that can help. Spending 15 minutes a day reaching out to someone you love, video conferencing with them, calling them on the phone or writing to them can be a powerful way to build connection into your daily life.
Making sure the time you have with people is high quality, so that you are not distracted by your phone or by other technology, is also really important to making sure that you are getting the most out of the time you have with others.
Finally, helping other people is a powerful way to connect with them. So, think about your neighbors and other people in your life that may be struggling. Reach out and check on them, see how they are doing. That's a powerful way to help bridge the isolation that many of us are undergoing right now.
Q: Are you a basketball fan? If so, who was your favorite player or team growing up?
Dr. Murthy: I am a big basketball fan. I have been watching basketball ever since I was a young boy. I grew up in Miami, Florida and the Miami Heat were my favourite team growing up.
In fact, the franchise started when I was here in high school, I believe. My favourite player, growing up at that time on the Miami Heat, was Rony Seikaly but in the years since, Dwyane Wade, also an icon for the Miami Heat, has become my favourite player.
So, was sad to see him retire last year but I hope that he's doing well in his post-NBA life.
Q: Should I wear a facemask or gloves to protect myself from the virus? #NBATogether- NBA (@NBA) April 1, 2020
A: 🔊 @vivek_murthy pic.twitter.com/8Y8nv13Hdu
To learn more about Dr. Murthy's new book, "Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World," which examines loneliness as a public health concern and will be released on April 28, please visit https://www.vivekmurthy.com.
Click here for a new Q&A with Dr. David Ho, the Director and CEO of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and an expert on viral epidemics.
Visit NBATogether.com's "Know The Facts" section for additional interviews with NBA players and health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Stephen Curry and Dr. Kensa Gunter and DeMar DeRozan.