To recite the clinical picture and other outcomes from patients with COVID-19 would take more than a few paragraphs and, to be frank, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) does a great job of summarizing these and keeping them up to date. I encourage you to check out their website to get the facts: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
Interesting things to note include the populations affected and the case fatality rate (CFR). As of now, and with the data that is available for confirmed and suspected cases (and this data generally lags behind real-time data) the case fatality rate (the amount of people dead from COVID-19 divided by the total amount of reported cases of COVID-19) rests around 1.4% in the United States. This is far from the doomsday numbers that were predicted and still thrown around in the media carelessly. Now the second interesting point, the populations affected. The age-related CFR for older individuals and those with comorbidities (especially heart and lung conditions) is higher than younger populations (so looking at the overall CFR can be very misleading). In addition, all of these numbers are likely inflated as there are thought to be many undiagnosed cases that are asymptomatic, mild or already recovered. This will change as more people are tested, but it is likely that there are many people who will never report at all as they either have no symptoms or decide to ride it out at home (like most do when they get a ‘flu’). In short, it will take more complete data to fully understand the risks involved with COVID-19 in the US, but as of now they seem below the initial hype.
So is COVID-19 a serious problem? For most people, not really. But for those that it is, it can be very serious and fatal. The largest problem, and the reason (so much as I can tell) for the various levels of quarantine is the potential overwhelming of medical facilities. There is a sizable amount of chronically ill people in the United States. If the virus’s spread is not mitigated (slowed down) then the speed at which these at risk individuals become infected and potentially need hospital care can overwhelm the facilities and lead to more deaths due to improper or inadequate care. We have seen the beginnings of this in China, although their totalitarian enforcement of quarantine seems to have effectively squashed the infection since then. Italy has also experienced this although the overwhelming of their system may be due to the high number of elderly in their population.
All this being said, while you should be concerned, think what you would do if you had any other flu-like illness – you would stay home and rest unless your symptoms became severe (especially trouble breathing). COVID-19 is no different. In fact, because this can be transmitted easily the best place you can be is home unless you need special care. Acting calmly goes a long way in helping to prevent the overwhelming of our medical system and is also the best way to care for yourself. If you do have a concern or are uncertain call your healthcare provider first.
This is general information only and not intended to diagnose or treat your specific health or medical conditions. If you have a specific health or medical condition consult with your healthcare professional. You can also contact Dr. Pintauro directly.