Q&A with primary care physician Daniela Connelly
Despite New Hampshire’s best efforts to flatten the curve of Covid-19 cases, the Granite State isn’t out of the woods just yet. A lack of social distancing and personal protective equipment during the state’s reopening has many wondering how they can keep themselves and loved ones safe during these uncertain times. On a recent episode of New Hampshire PBS’ “The State We’re In,” host Melanie Plenda, director of the Granite State News Collaborative, talked with Dr. Daniela Connelly, a primary care physician, about her experience with patients and how Granite Staters can stay safe when out in public spaces.
For those working front-line jobs with frequent public interactions, what are some of the best ways to ensure that they’re able to stay safe?
Principally you want to wear your mask at all times to avoid breathing in someone else’s expired air. You want to keep your hands clean and wash them as frequently as possible. You want to make sure you don’t touch your face. It’s inevitable that you reach to your nose or your eyes and as you do that, you may transmit the virus to those soft surfaces on the body. So you want to wash your hands, keep your mask on and keep a distance.
Many are living in households with sick and compromised individuals. How can caregivers and family members make sure they and their loved ones stay safe and healthy?
If you have a frail person at home, whether it’s an elderly parent or someone who’s immune-compromised for one or another reason, you want to understand that the best way to love them is to wear a mask around them. Many people may not know their Covid status and inadvertently transmit the virus. If you’re looking after someone who’s very fragile or frail, wear your mask, wash your hands and socially distance as best as you can.
What are some precautions that everybody should take when entering public spaces?
I think you want to be cognizant of your own well-being. If you’re not feeling well, if you have a headache, if you have sniffles, if you have a sore throat, if you’re achy, you may actually be carrying the virus and you want to respect people in your community by staying away from stores or libraries or schools, or even the workplace.
In addition to sort of removing yourself from circulation, if you’re not feeling well you want to enter public spaces wearing a mask. You wear a mask to protect the people around you, and you hope that the people around you wear a mask so that you may be protected. In certain circumstances, certainly if you’re working very close to other people, in addition to a mask you may want to wear a face shield or glasses again, to protect the mucosa of the eyes.
In your practice, who are you seeing?
In primary care? We see anybody and everybody that’s in the community. I see a lot of folks that are working outside the home and have a lot of questions about their likelihood of transmission. I see folks that are coming in requesting testing because they have symptoms that may or may not be related to Covid, but I think they’re worried about the risk of transmission to family members.
Can you give us an example of that in terms of what you’re seeing? What are they concerned about? What are their worries?
A few weeks ago, I saw a very sweet family via telemedicine. It was two daughters and an elderly mother who were requesting an appointment to get tested for Covid-19 because the elderly father had contracted the illness and was very sick in the hospital. Mom had tested positive and the two daughters had been in the car with their mother a few days prior to that positive test. As you can see, it’s very easy. Once you become a little lax about wearing your mask, transmission can happen quickly. I think people have a sense of responsibility towards their loved ones and they are requesting evaluations and testing.