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Your Healthy Family: Coronavirus, as public concerns rise it's important to keep perspective

Posted at 12:10 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 06:52:47-04

AURORA — In this Your Healthy Family we're talking about coronavirus with Dr. Michelle Barron. Dr. Barron is an infectious disease expert with UCHealth who is emphasizing there is no need for panic or fear when it comes to COVID-19, even though weare seeing cases here in Colorado.

Dr. Barron says, “I think it's a matter of time. The way it's spreading across the United States because people are still traveling and living their life - as they should - we will see some cases.”

My interview with Dr. Barron was on Tuesday, March 3rd. Late on Wednesday, March 4th, news broke that two people in Colorado have self-quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

A federal employee at the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) in Denver may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus
A substitute teacher for Centaurus High School in Lafayette is under self-quarantine after he was informed Wednesday

Dr. Barron also feels the early estimates of a 2% or 3.4% mortality rate for COVID-19 will eventually come down, as more about the virus is learned. “I think (early estimates) don’t really take into account all the people that were asymptomatic and were not tested. The general information that's out there is based on the number of how many people were tested, and how many people died. It doesn't account for all the people that weren't tested and didn't die so I think that number is probably over-inflated. Certainly when you look at the data out of the cruise ship, which is more reflective of everyone getting tested, everybody was monitored and you can really see how many people died in those groups. It's probably going to be closer to the flu and it's probably nowhere near the 2% that is being quoted, but we need more data to be able to really define that but I think that has made people more anxious, unnecessarily.”

As the push to educate the public on common-sense infection prevention like frequent handwashing and not touching your face continues, and the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in the U.S., Dr. Barron expects public perception will eventually calm.

Dr. Barron says, “I don't want to minimize (anything for) the people that have been affected by this new virus. However, flu is common and everybody knows somebody who has the flu. The reality is that flu kills people every year, anywhere from 20,000 to 27,000 people die of the flu in the United States every year. I think there will come a point where we're going to treat (COVID-19) like we do cold or flu. If you're sick enough that you're having problems breathing, we want to see you and evaluate you. Otherwise we’ll probably tell you to stay home, and take whatever fluids or medications you need to take your aches and fever away.”