Coronavirus from the perspective of an infectious disease doctor


   On April 20, Head of School Byron Lawson officially announced that the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year would be remote learning. For Dr. Juan Diaz, an infectious disease doctor at Adventhealth, indefinite school closure has seemed a near certainty for weeks. 

   “The benefits of an online education to promote social distancing outways a ‘live’ education you have at this time,” Diaz said.

   Florida has already begun partially reopening. Diaz said that businesses need to be reopened in a step-by-step fashion, with the low-risk businesses opening first and the high-risk businesses opening last as of May 4. 

   “High risks are gyms, personal salons, including hair salons and hairdressers, arenas and stadiums,” Diaz said. “Low risk would be department stores, national parks and shopping.”

   Although Governor DeSantis has issued executive orders directing individuals entering Florida from the New York Tri-State Area or Louisiana to self-isolate for 14 days, the state has not released any other mandatory travel restrictions. However, both the state and Diaz advised against traveling in airports.

   “Flying and traveling should be one of the last phases because that requires people to be in very close proximity for an extended period of time,” Diaz said.

   According to the Florida Department of Health, as of May 16, Florida had 44,811 confirmed cases and 1,964 deaths. Even though Florida has a higher number of cases, the state’s deaths to cases ratio isn’t as severe as other states. For example, Diaz said on April 26 that while Florida had about 3.52 deaths for every 100 cases, Washington State had 5.68 deaths for every 100 cases. The reason Florida has performed so well is because most people in the state of Florida are following the quarantine guidelines

   “Florida’s doing better than other states because our population is dispersed and it’s not concentrated highly like it is in New York City,” Diaz said. “Also, we have been [opening] in a stepwise fashion. Gyms are not opening; Our malls have just opened up and the governor allowed restaurants to open at 25% capacity.”

   Although Diaz said that staying home was the best way to stay safe, he also gave some recommendations for staying safe while going outside.

   “Wear a mask when out in public, social distance six feet or greater, keep your hands away from your mouth, your nose, your eyes and adequately wash your hands,” Diaz said.

   Although Diaz encourages people to wear a mask, he is unsure about using homemade masks.

   “I can’t say anything on how homemade masks are going to work,” Diaz said. “I recommend buying masks versus trying to make one.”

   There are several testing locations available in Central Florida, many of which offer free coronavirus testing with no out-of-pocket costs.

   “The Orange County Convention Center and Sanford Mall both have low crowds so you can get tested easily,” Diaz said.

   Diaz himself has been affected by the pandemic in several different ways. Diaz is affiliated with AdventHealth Orlando and he also has his own practice in Orlando, both of which have seen several changes.

   “We’ve seen a lot less patients in the hospital that are non-COVID patients,” Diaz said. “It’s impacted our office because not a lot of patients are coming to any other doctor’s visits.”

   As a result, Diaz has had to change his daily routine whenever he goes to work.

   “I have to get my temperature checked, I have to put on a brand new mask and I wear a mask for every patient in the hospital,” Diaz said. “I’m not even wearing normal clothes anymore, I’m wearing scrubs everyday to work.”

   Despite all these safety precautions, one of Diaz’s coworkers contracted the coronavirus and was intubated in the ICU.

   “It hits deeper because you know them,”  Diaz said. “[4 weeks later,] he’s out of the ICU and is going home today. I just think he got unlucky, he was wearing what he had to wear, [and] for all we know he could have gotten it outside of work.”

   Not only has Diaz’s work and daily routine changed, but his family life has also been negatively impacted.

   “[I] can’t go watch a movie with my family, I can’t go out to dinner with my family,” Diaz said. “I always worry about bringing an infection to my family, so I come straight home, take a shower and don’t touch any of my family members until after I get out of the shower.”

   According to the New York Times, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Robert Redfield expressed concerns that a new surge in coronavirus cases could coincide with the next flu season. However, Diaz said that coronavirus and influenza were independent of each other.

   “Influenza season ends in May and only time will tell if the coronavirus ends in the fall,” Diaz said. “We will definitely have a lot lower cases.”

   Dr. Diaz said he wishes that people knew how deadly the virus would be before the whole world was on lockdown.

   “Once China knew they had an outbreak they should have immediately notified the rest of the world to shut down our border so that people from China don’t come to other places, and they should have shut down their borders and said, ‘You’re not allowed to travel outside of China because you can potentially infect the rest of the world,’” Diaz said.