‘Like nothing we’ve ever seen’ - Dr. William Victor Fattig discusses COVID 19

Dr. William Victor Fattig, MD

“Two and a half months ago we had never heard of this virus and now it has circled the globe,” said Dr. Fattig. “It’s not really behaving like any virus that we’ve ever seen before so we are all learning as we go.”

Doctor Fattig cares for nearly 1,500 patients at his clinic in Alliance and has been making preparations for the coronavirus (COVID 19) since the beginning of March.

“If you can get proper medical care than you can survive this but if the hospital systems are overwhelmed then you may not survive this virus,” Fattig said. “That’s why social distancing is so important, so that we can slow down the spread of this so that it doesn’t overwhelm our medical system.”

He explains that there are two things we can do to fight this virus: time and distance.

Try to stay away from anyone who may have been exposed to it or may have it. And stay secluded as much as possible until this passes.

Wash your hands, wear a mask if at all possible and clean surfaces.

“It survives on surfaces anywhere from three to seven days so clean everything as much as you can,” Fattig said. “Studies show that it spreads anywhere from 12 to 14 feet away and hangs in the air for about 30 minutes.”

 “It’s a lot different than any other virus in that it starts shedding anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after you catch it and then it sheds for seven days on average before you get the symptoms and then it sheds for another eight days while you have the symptoms which are usually fever and cough. Then 80 percent of the time it gets better after that but the other twenty percent of the time it’s making people really sick.”

“It is four times more contagious than the flu but about half as contagious as measles,” Fattig noted.” “But the more of the virus that you get exposed to the sicker you’ll get.”

At his clinic they have taken a lot of steps to help them prepare.

“Health care providers are most at risk,” Fattig said. “Trying to get the least amount of inoculation means the least amount of illness you’re going to get. That’s what we’re hoping for. Especially in healthcare, I don’t think there’s any way that we aren’t going to be exposed to it at some point but the whole goal is to get as little of the virus in you as possible because that will set up a very small reaction.”

“I have been following a lot of studies out of China and Korea on different ways to treat this, we do have some medications that seem to be dropping the morbidity and mortality, so when it gets here I will definitely be using those medications.”

He added that each year the influenza strain starts in Japan around March and then it’s here by October. This started in January and got here in March.

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,” Fattig said. “Now we know that there are subtypes to this virus, there’s an L and S. the L is spreading faster and has a higher lethality to it. The S type doesn’t do a lot of damage, feels more like the flu and doesn’t spread as fast.”

The people that have studied this see a peak in late May.

“It should stop spreading when about 80 percent of the population has it,” he said. “Once it gets to 80 percent then we’ll have heard immunity and it will start shutting down.”

The average hospital stay is around three days but the average hospital stay with someone with the coronavirus is about 10 days. So hospital systems are being dramatically overwhelmed.

“The big thing is if people can quarantine as much as possible, stay out of the public as much as possible for next few months then we can keep the amount of morbidity low,” Fattig said.

His advice is to get a flu shot if you haven’t and to get some extra vitamin D. Have two weeks’ worth of food and supplies stored up incase our quarantine gets more forceful as they have in other countries.  And to keep yourself as healthy as possible.

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