The Transylvania Times -

A Doctor's Advice


Last updated 3/26/2020 at 10:41am

(Editor’s Note: At this time it is crucial for residents to listen to the advice of medical professionals. The following information is from local doctor Ray Dunkelberg.)


1. COVID-19 is a new virus. No one on the planet had seen this virus before four months ago. Since it first began four months ago, it has spread to cover every continent except Antarctica. It is very contagious.

2. COVID-19 reached the shores of the U.S. several weeks ago and has spread across the country in these short few weeks.

3. COVID-19 has come to Western North Carolina and Transylvania County and has been here several weeks now.

4. You should assume that anyone/everyone (including you!) has it and can unintentionally infect others. Act as though you have it and do not spread it to others. Keep your distance.

5. It is estimated that 80 percent of us will eventually get this virus but most will have mild or even no symptoms. A smaller but significant number will have a severe illness and require hospitalization. A smaller number yet will require ICU care and ventilators to get over it.

6. People over 65 are particularly vulnerable with a high mortality rate. Do not visit people over 65.

7. Because it is so contagious, hospitals in Western North Carolina will be overwhelmed despite opening up extra beds, finding offsite beds and preparing extra staff, supplies, etc.

8. If hospitals get overwhelmed, they simply cannot care for everyone that needs ICU beds and the mortality rate goes up astronomically. We can help prevent this catastrophe if you help.

What You Must Do

1. The only tool we have in our toolbox to fight COVID-19 is social distancing. (We will at some point have vaccinations or medicines but not now.) Social distancing has worked well in other epidemics/pandemics and will likely work to control COVID-19, but EVERYONE MUST DO IT to be effective.

2. Social distancing will slow the spread of the virus and illness. It will buy us time to treat the sick and save lives and develop other strategies.

3. Basically social distancing requires a) everyone to stay home, b) if you have to get out, keep distances 6-10 feet apart, c) only go out for necessities: groceries, pharmacy, necessary doctor appointments or to provide necessary services and d) do not gather. Two people is a crowd.

4. Wash your hands as though your life depended on it because it might. Each time wash for 20 seconds with soap and water. If you have no sink, use hand sanitizer.

5. Wash your hands before you eat, drink, touch your face or even brush your teeth. The virus enters your body through mucus membranes (your mouth, nose and eyes.)

6. Sanitize surfaces such as doorknobs, counter tops, steering wheels, remotes, cell phones, etc. regularly. Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 10 days.

If You Feel Sick

1. If your symptoms are mild, such as fever and cough, (but you don’t have any shortness of breath, chest discomfort or confusion) stay at home. There is no treatment for COVID-19.

2. Eighty percent of people only have mild symptoms and will recover nicely at home. Remember that. Just stay at home. There is no need to get tested at this time. The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some experience fatigue, headache and less frequently, diarrhea. If you feel sick enough that you would ordinarily call your doctor, then call your doctor.

3. In Transylvania if you feel like you need to see a doctor, then call your regular doctor. If you do not have a regular doctor, then call the Health Department at (828) 884-8135 or Blue Ridge Health at (828) 692-4396.

4. Stay informed. We will get through this. Avoid unnecessary worries. Stay informed through reliable sources, such as the CDC, World Health Organization and the N.C. State Health Department. Remember that social media and even TV aren’t necessarily helpful or factual.

5. Try to get a little exercise daily. Drink plenty of fluids. Catch up on your reading or call old friends. Keep an eye out for shut-ins or our older population but remember social distancing so you do not take the virus to them.

Editor's note: the following local information was supported by these local physicians: Jamie Ramsey MD,Tim Shea MD, Hal Royer MD, Ora Wells MD, Veresa Myers MD, Angus Graham MD, Joe Cohen MD and James Tyson MD.


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