PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — By air, sea, and land when the nation’s troops train, they often train for the next war. So, what does a former U.S. Air Force doctor who spent three years at the home of the 1st Fighter Wing, in Hampton, Virginia, have to say about the status of the war on the coronavirus pandemic?
The AMA has joined forces with the Ad Council to spread the word about the coronavirus pandemic, which Harmon says is still a winnable war.
“We can still overcome this. We can handle this transmissibility [omicron]. The best way to protect from illness or death is to get vaccinated and practice public social health measures,” Harmon said.
But along the road to victory, Harmon says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a potential setback by reducing the recommended isolation time from 10 days to five days for those who are recovering from a coronavirus infection. They should wear a mask for the next five days when around others.
“That’s confusing; I think that’s a risk. We have some data — even from the CDC’s website — that shows that as many as one out of three people are still shedding virus and contagious after five days. So I would worry that if we put a substantial amount of people back into the workforce and back into the schools we could spread — unintentionally — a fair amount of a highly contagious virus into the community and exacerbate the problem,” said Harmon in a Zoom interview.
So what are the doctor’s orders?
“I tell my patients and I recommend a minimum of seven days because most studies have actually shown that you stop shedding the virus in five to six days, but certainly seven is more confidence to have in the absence of a negative test and we have a shortage of those supplies,” Harmon said.
And, he has a weapon for the parallel war on pandemic misinformation and disinformation which is often spread on social media.
“If you are going to spend time surfing the internet looking for things on social media, go to getvaccineanswers.org. That way, you will be encouraged to get vaccinated and take the public health measures we need to take to prevent transmission of this virus,” added Harmon.
Regina Mobley: “If you were to write a letter to doctors of the year 2050, what lessons would you share with them about what we have learned about the coronavirus pandemic that was first identified in 2020?”
Dr. Gerald Harmon: “Think about the next pandemic; be proactive about what we are doing right now.”
Inspired by American Revolutionary War doctor and patriot Dr. Jospeh Warren, Harmon has some advice for doctors of the future who will do battle with the next global pandemic.
“Act worthy of yourself; you have a high calling for medical professionals. Use all those talents for the benefit of the public good. Do what you and I wrote on medical school or nursing school applications: ‘I want to serve humanity with my skills.’ Act worthy of yourself,” Harmon said.