A Message from the APA on COVID-19
As the U.S. addresses COVID-19 (coronavirus), all medical associations are working to ensure the continued operations of their respective organizations, governing bodies, assemblies, boards, meetings, and conferences. APA is following updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WHO, NIH, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the other medical specialty societies.
The CDC is the main, most reliable resource. Its comprehensive website has the most up-to-date information, including a fact sheet on what you need to know, guidance on prevention and control, and guidance for travelers.
The CDC recommends basic hygienic precautions, similar to those used to prevent the spread of other diseases, including:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
Some additional precautions from a former Health Director include:
- No physical contact, including handshakes
- Place disinfectant wipes and small and large bottles of antibacterial hand gel in high-use areas.
- Don’t share pens
- Do not eat from shared food plates
- Don’t touch elevator (lift) buttons, ticket kiosk buttons in public garages, and so on. Use a tissue when touching such buttons and then throw it away.
Regarding air travel, airlines have stated that between 94% and 99.9% of airborne microbes are captured, and a total changeover of air occurs every two or three minutes. Therefore, the high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are hospital quality, so risk of infection on airplanes is low. Travelers should try to avoid contact with sick passengers and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol.
Many of the patients we treat also are worried about COVID-19. APA recently published a blog written by Dr. Joshua Morganstein, who is chair of the Committee on Psychiatric Dimensions of Disaster, that provides helpful information for psychiatrists in speaking with their patients. Informative fact sheets are also available online.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact APA.
A previous section on the Annual Meeting has been deleted. Several days after the publication of this blog, APA announced it would not hold the Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.