COVID-19 Daily: DIY Masks, 'Some of Us Will Die'

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MARCH 20, 2020 -- Here are the latest coronavirus stories Medscape's editors around the globe think you need to know about today:

Are DIY Masks Worth the Risk?

With personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks in short supply, some practitioners have started sewing their own. But while research indicates that they provide more protection than nothing at all, some experts worry that do-it-yourself masks also provide a false sense of security.

"Some of Us Will Die"

Physicians can feel the oncoming surge of patients, and they know that they won't be fully protected against this contagious virus. In an ideal world, physicians would be using PPE routinely and testing patients immediately. But lack of access to both puts all healthcare professionals at risk, notes John Mandrola in this perspective. And while the exact virulence of the disease remains unknown, the evidence shows that some will become critically ill and die. "It's weird," he says, "the feeling that your job could take your life."

Routine Care and COVID-19 

In the time of coronavirus, as pressure increases on the medical system and PPE becomes more valuable than gold, health systems and clinicians are realizing the need to prioritize care. So what kind of care should doctors stop providing until the pandemic and its patient surge subsides? Societies are urging their physicians to delay elective procedures for the foreseeable future, freeing up both providers and facilities for more urgent needs.

Kaiser's Surge Strategy

With the San Francisco Bay Area mired in coronavirus cases, Kaiser Permanente is doing what it can to preserve PPE, protect staff and patients, and optimize its resources, says Stephen Parodi, MD, the lead physician for the health system's national coronavirus response. Some of his advice is detailed here, including: Launch your surge plans, even if you haven't yet seen COVID-19 in your community; have greeters at the door to sort the sick from the not-sick; and create a plan to conserve PPE, such as allowing two confirmed cases to share a room.

Healing Helping Hands


Because handwashing hinders the spread of COVID-19, some clinicians are sanitizing and washing their hands hundreds of times a day. But there's a right and a wrong way to do it, and the wrong way can lead to serious skin conditions. From water temperature to hand-washing choreography, we detail the right way to do it. 

At-Home COVID-19 Tests Arrive

With so many delays in testing, and limits on who can get the tests, a number of at-home testing companies have stepped in to fill the void. But should you or your patients use one? STAT News reports on the benefits and drawbacks.

Stay at Home

Attempting to stem the virus's spread and prevent the surge that struck Italy (whose death toll now exceeds China's), US state governors from New York to Illinois to California are ordering residents to stay home and effectively shelter in place. The strategy makes sense, given that one researcher — a microbiologist in northern Italy who tested everyone in his small town — told the BBC that only one in four people who were COVID-19-positive had ANY symptoms at all.

Lauren Gravitz is the editorial director for Medscape features. She has covered science and medicine for a variety of publications, including Nature, Technology Review, Nature Medicine, and NPR. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @lyrebard.

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