Welcome to the Covid-19 Testing Program!
We are so pleased you have dropped by for COVID testing, for your own health and the health of all those around you. Below you will find information about the COVID test we will be using, and some useful information about the Virus and COVID disease progression.
First, some housekeeping:
1) We work very hard to keep ALL politics out of these updates. When you go through this, please do not feel the need to be offended by information in here. This information is purely scientific and health-focused only. There is a significant amount of politics and brainwashing going on outside; we want no part of that.
2) If you want to be removed from the email updates, please just call the office. Heather’s number is (843) 491-3007. She will be happy to help you.
3) If you need your CoViD test results, please call Heather Pitts in the Lab. Their direct number is (843) 957-6740.
4) If you need a Travel Clearance Form, please call Heather Pitts, at the Lab number.
5) If you need a followup telemedicine visit for CoViD because of questions, please call the office number.
6) We are still seeing patients in-house if you need us.
This medical practice has been deeply involved in the greater Grand Strand community since arriving here and we feel that it is important for us, as physicians, to personally contribute to our communities to make them better places. Our new community COVID-19 testing program arises from our firm belief of making our community a better place.
We feel that anyone who wants to know their current or past status, should have easy access to COVID testing. Testing helps everyone know where they are in the process of this outbreak.
You could be: Uninfected-so-still-at-risk; Infected-but-pre-symptomatic or -asymptomatic (possible virus spreader, quarantine, and watchful waiting); Infected-and-need-to begin-medical-care; OR Was-infected, need watchful care for Post-COVID-complications and actions to avoid post-COVID virus spreading.
We believe that the more information we have about your health, the better it is for you and everyone in the community to fight COVID!
Accurate scientific information regarding this COVID virus is a political hot mess in the US, so it is difficult for people to understand or believe what they are reading and hearing from politicians and medical experts.
Here, to the best of our knowledge today (we will adjust if that changes), are the FACTS:
This SARS2 Virus started as a small local outbreak in the industrial city of Wuhan, China sometime in the November-December 2019 time-frame. The socially acceptable name for this virus is SARS-CoV2. The virus hopped to humans in Wuhan after passing through a series of other animals – we may never know which ones – and the only reason we even care is that we would like to put a lid on that source.
The Covid Infection and Your Body’s Response to it:
The US has invested billions of dollars researching and trying to understand this disease. To date (late June 2020) there have been 28,000 papers published in the six months since this disease emerged – and we are still learning as we go! Right now, here is what we think the facts are:
A) The virus enters the body via the mucous membranes (wet surfaces) of your upper and lower airways (nose, mouth, and lungs), your digestive tract, and your eyes. Like HIV, it can probably also enter through your vagina and rectum during some types of sex. VERY importantly, this virus cannot enter your body through intact skin, so just touching it with your hands or body is not dangerous – unless you then touch any of the above mucous membranes. Don’t touch your face until you have washed your hands very well!
B) Based on the number of viruses that first get into you (your viral exposure load) – and your personal ability to fight the virus that particular day (which changes) – it takes about 3-5 days for our high sensitivity nasopharyngeal swab ‘PCR’ test should show positive. This means you have the virus growing (replicating) in you.
C) About 7-15 days after the virus begins to replicate – the timing is based on YOUR PERSONAL immune system and how the battle goes – your white blood cells will slowly begin making its first IgM antibodies, and our IgM blood test (serology) will begin to turn positive.
D) About 7 days after that, if still needed, your white blood cells will SWITCH to making the more powerful and virus-specific IgG type of antibodies, and our IgG blood test will slowly begin to turn positive.
E) While you are recovering from COVID, your IgM levels (and the cells making it) will peak and then very rapidly disappear, followed by a an even bigger IgG peak – which will then gradually drop over the next 3 months to 30 years – depending on YOUR individual immune system and how severe the COVID affected YOU.
F) This is your IgG immunity. There is another important part of this story, concerning other white blood cells (immune cells) in your body. These cells fought the virus and cleaned up the battlefield afterward, and some of them go into a ‘veteran’s retirement home’ where they will remember how they fought the COVID Battle of 2020.
The more of these memory cells that you make, and the better their retirement home conditions, the better and longer will be your long-term immunity to the virus – a flash-in-the-pan-catch-it again-next-year cure or a semi-permanent immunity.
How to read our COVID tests:
1.) Virus swab +, IgM/IgG negative: You are infected and can be infectious to other people around you.
2.) Virus swab +, IgM +, IgG negative: You are infected, you are likely getting better, but you ARE infectious to other people.
3.) Virus swab +, IgM +, IgG +: You are infected, you are VERY likely infectious to other people, but you are well on your way to getting over this.
4.) Virus swab -, IgM +, IgG +: You are clearing, or have cleared, the VIRUS, you probably aren’t infectious from your respiratory system. CAUTION!: However, if the virus infected your kidneys, guts or testes – you might still be putting out (shedding) virus that could infect others, so you need to practice safe behaviors for at least 6 weeks – the longest time MOST shedders have been tracked. There is always the oddball who sheds longer, it is best to stay on the side of caution as you get better.
Virus swabs and blood PCR tests are negative, IgM test is negative, serology tests are positive for strongly virus-killing (neutralizing) IgG antibodies: You are well into your COVID recovery phase, you have good immunity now. You are PROBABLY not infectious, but see the CAUTION above.
This means that if you see this exact virus again, your body will be ready for it – and you will have little or no outwards symptoms from your next encounter. For now, we believe most mild-to-severe COVID survivors will easily clear any near-future CoViD-19 infection with relative ease, without having noticeable symptoms. If you have only weak symptoms or are entirely asymptomatic, your risk of a future Covid RE-infection is much higher.
How high? – We don’t know yet. What if the virus changes, will I still be immune? We don’t know yet, but for sure it will be a person-specific, virus-change-specific answer when we get it. So, yes, there is immunity. We are getting this put in a logical way to present it, and will post / send it out as soon as I have the info from the CoViD committee.
So, the real numbers:
As of 9/19/2020, in Horry county, there is on average of 32 new cases a day, which has dropped significantly.
For people whom have symptoms of CoViD and are being testing, the positive loads are about 8.4%. That means if someone is sick with CoViD symptoms, about only 1 in 11 actually have the disease.
Unfortunately, there have been 195 deaths in our county as of 9/19/2020, where CoViD is involved. That does not mean they died from the disease, simply they had CoViD some time during their illness, and the patient passed. These are mostly much older adults with pre-existing medical conditions. The average age is 74 but someone with multiple medical conditions whom was 25 year old also passed.
Compared to other states, our area and South Carolina has one of the highest cumulative rates in the country. Again, our number are skewed by visitors being tested, but this is an important distinction. Many of our residents have had the disease, and are now over the infection. Most of which will form some type of immunity.
Our goal is to keep as many people from dying as possible so we can get a vaccine out to the population.
Washing your hands, don’t touch your face, etc: The most important thing you can do. Virus cannot get through intact skin. Keep it clean babies!
The feeling is that if everyone wears a mask, whether or not they are immune or sick, we could help slow the disease. However, this does not help those who are immune to the disease. The idea is that facial masks may help reduce the level of exposure you breathe in from other infected people or breathe out to others if you yourself might be infected. The feeling is that your chances of being infected will go down if you have a lower “Viral Load Exposure”
The feeling is that the more distance you are away from someone the less you will be exposed to concentrations of the virus. With a lower “Viral Load Exposure”, there is a belief that your chances of getting infected will decrease.
Please be safe, take care of each other, and I will see, hopefully, everybody on the other side of this, safe and sound.
Still have questions? Call the office for a telemedicine appointment. Or you can come by for the appointment and have a cup of coffee with me.
Your Doctor at the Beach,
Dr. Dave Weitzman