The following are various story ideas regarding the COVID-19 illness. To interview Johns Hopkins experts on these topics or others, contact JHMedia@jhmi.edu.
Newswise — TELEMEDICINE AND COVID-19
In a time where limited contact and social distancing is imperative, telemedicine is proving to be a valuable staple of the future of health care. Led by Rebecca Canino, administrative director for telemedicine, and Brian Hasselfeld, M.D., assistant medical director of Johns Hopkins digital health innovations, Johns Hopkins Medicine has turned on telemedicine capabilities systemwide in response to the pandemic. The technology means all Johns Hopkins patients registered in the Epic electronic medical system will be able to access remote care. Keeping patients at home instead of in hospitals or clinics, when appropriate, will slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, enable continuity of care between our providers and patients, and protect at-risk groups such as geriatric and oncology patients. Canino and Hasselfeld can discuss details about activating a telemedicine response to COVID-19.
KIDS AT HOME? KEEP THEM BUSY, LESS ANXIOUS WITH ACTIVITIES
Across the nation, COVID-19 has given children a longer spring break from school than expected. For parents searching desperately for things to keep their youngsters busy with besides an endless stream of video games and TV watching, Shannon Barnett, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, may have just what Mom and Dad need. She can discuss her flyer, “Schools are Closed. Now What,” a tool that helps families schedule activities, exercise, projects and even chores so that Mr. Boredom stays far away, parents maintain their sanity and children have less anxiety about the pandemic. Fun ideas from the piece include: have a dance party, cook a meal together and make a video about how the family is staying safe from COVID-19.
WHO IS MOST AT RISK?
In addition to older adults, people with certain pre-existing conditions may be more at risk for serious complications from COVID-19. In particular, pulmonologist Enid Neptune, M.D., can discuss how people with asthma or other chronic lung disorders may be more susceptible. Cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., can discuss why people with heart and vascular conditions are at risk. Rehabilitation psychologist Abbey Hughes, Ph.D., M.A., can address how patients with autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis need to take additional precautions against infection.
WHAT DO BLOOD PRESSURE AND DIABETES MEDICATIONS HAVE TO DO WITH COVID-19?
Viruses such as the one that causes COVID-19 infect the cells that line the lungs, intestine and blood vessels by latching onto a protein known as ACE2 and hitchhiking their way into the cell. In theory, the more ACE2 the cells make, the easier it is for the virus to get inside. People with diabetes and high blood pressure are often treated with medications that raise ACE2 levels, such as ACE inhibitors and angiotensin II type-I receptor blockers that lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels. Glitazones, diabetes drugs that help lower blood sugar, also increase ACE2 levels. Obesity and diabetes can themselves lead to elevated ACE2 levels independent of drug treatment. As a result, some have questioned whether people on these medications may be more susceptible infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Basic science researcher and cardiologist David Kass, M.D., can discuss what we know about this and what patients should do if they are on one of these medications.
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS FACING HEALTH DISPARITIES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
COVID-19 has greatly impacted daily life for communities worldwide and has put many communities at risk. The virus has infected thousands of patients in the United States. Routine doctors’ appointments are being postponed, retail stores and restaurants have closed their doors, and large public events have been canceled in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. While many are able to seek the care they need to address the illness, some people are in communities that lack basic access to health care facilities that are equipped to treat them. This is becoming a growing issue in America. Lisa Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., can discuss how COVID-19 is affecting these populations.
For more information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Johns Hopkins Medicine, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus. For information on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from around the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit coronavirus.jhu.edu.