COVID-19 is a virus that has a slightly higher rate of communicability than influenza which scientists refer to as R0 (verbalized as r naught) and an estimated mortality rate of less than .7% (the percentage of people that die from the disease).  Compared to influenza with a mortality rate of 1.2% COVID-19 is significantly less lethal. What the death rate does not represent is that the majority of those dying already have coborbidity which is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a person.  Chronic means a person always has the disease and in many of the people that have COVID-19 their existing diseases are fatal as well.

Right now, death rate estimates vary per country. The best estimates for South Korea put COVID-19’s fatality rate at 0.6%, and a recent study released on the death the rate in China — but outside hard-hit Wuhan — hovered just above that, at 0.7%.  – ABC News

Of course, if you are already unhealthy, why take the chance of getting a disease that might kill you?  How, in fact, do we as a culture ensure that each and everyone of us lives a life of dignity and feels secure in the fact that no matter how frail we are, we are protected from harm as much as possible?

It is very unlikely that if you were sitting alone in a field of flowers with no other humans around for miles you would be infected by a human virus from somebody else.  Our proximity to others is the single greatest danger in communicable diseases. On the other hand, we are a social species that requires human interaction to feel valued and be happy.  So how do we balance these two needs when we are frail and wish to live a life with dignity? This is the issue being dealt with by the world today and frankly, not very well.

Why would I say we have not done very well dealing with COVID-19 as a global community?  I say this because Banglador is not the same as Wuhan, which is not the same as Seattle. Applying the same techniques to San Francisco as were applied to Wuhan China is not a reasonable perspective in viral control.  You might ask, “Why not?” Simply because social, economic, and infrastructure conditions are not the same. Things like clean water availability, soap availability, food service requirements, hand washing requirements, transportation methodologies, and on and on.  The fact is, reacting world wide by attempting to flatten the curve in the fear that our medical infrastructure MIGHT not be able to handle the demand on their services is a woefully inadequate way to deal with the problem.  What exactly is flattening the curve? It is the system used by epidemiologists to slow the exponential increase in the communication of a disease through isolation.

It does not make sense to cripple an economy, the same economy that requires worker to manufacture toilet paper, in order to limit the potential demand on an infrastructure.  The fact is, the message to all people in a society to stay home and not produce will exacerbate the problem because the result will be less cleaned surfaces, less access to clean water, less access to soap, and less access to toilet paper.  Flattening the curve serves a single industry at the expense of the whole. It is, in fact, a form of communism and is very unlikely to change the outcome in the United States where our infrastructure is pretty good.

So, what should we do and what should the message be?  We have done a pretty good job with the message:

Wash your hands

Don’t touch things in public environments

Don’t touch your face

Stay off public transportation

Keep your distance from people who you don’t know

Avoid people who are coughing

Maintain good air circulation

But what about the frail and people who have comorbidity?  How do we protect them? Those are great questions. For them, we need to implement special procedures.  They do need to avoid high traffic public places even in their own environment like public dining halls where others who do not see well might have forgotten to clean their hands sufficiently.  Senior communities need to be very vigilant about washing surfaces with solutions that kill viruses (ethanol based solutions):

For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. – CDC

What if you do everything you can and you still get sick?  What if you are already sick and worry that it will turn into COVID-19.  This is where the case for remote monitoring comes in. The problem with most hospitals is that we do not have enough resources to keep all surfaces clean all the time and that the air carries particles.  Having people go to a hospital to be tested guarantees that you will spread the virus. What can we do in these situations. Fortunately for all of us, the technology is here today that helps with all of this.  Through remote monitoring things like blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and lung capacity can all be checked remotely, in real time using systems like Zanthion’s SMART Platform. More importantly, real time measurements without conscience effort on the part of the senior sends alarms to caregivers instantly informing them of conditions outside the normal bounds of operation.  Let’s look at some examples.

Zanthion SMART Watch

The Zanthion SMART Watch provides 24/7 real time measurement of activity with automatic fall detection, heart rate monitoring, GPS location, and 2 way calling.  When seniors wear real time measurement devices any patterns outside the normal range of behavior such as hard impacts or extremely high heart rates will notify everyone in the care circle that there might be a problem.  Because this system compares behavior over a long period of time it knows exactly when there is a current problem with activity and heart rate.

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Zanthion SMART Home Spirometer

The Zanthion SMART Spirometer measures the volume of air inspired and expired by the lungs.  COVID-19 attacks the lungs.  Having a measurement tool that automatically calculates the variation in lung capacity over time is a great way to instantly identify the onset of a more serious form of a virus before it becomes too late.  As in all our products your carecircle will be notified immediately.  This product is currently not available due to supply issues.

Zanthion SMART Home Bed Exit

The Zanthion SMART Home Bed Exit provides real time measurement of nighttime activity including how many times and at what intervals a person leaves the bed.  It also measures how much movement a person has while in bed.  These two continuous measurements are key to monitoring health.  When people become restless and their sleep is poor at night it is often times an indicator of frailty or disease.  Because Zanthion measures this activity every night we are able to notice differences in behavior that are critical and notify the care circle of a need for intervention.  This is especially true in cases where someone becomes increasingly more ill during the night and they do not want to bother anyone.

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Zanthion SMART Home Motion

The Zanthion SMART Home Motion sensor is activated every time someone enters or exits a space.  This is important because most of us have patterns of activity and a frequency with which we move about our homes.  When motion sensors are used in conjunction with a watch, or used on their own to determine entry and exit into and out of spaces we can tell if someone has fallen or might be injured or lying on floor.  In those cases our system notifies caregivers of the potential problem.

Staying away from the hospital is a critical element of health for the frail.  In cases where there are epidemics like COVID-19 modern technology allows us to remotely monitor health much more efficiently than can be done with hospital visits.  Real time measurement of vitals and activities of daily living (ADLs) is here today.