Dan Zelman, Jewish Federation of Cleveland vice chairman, asks Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic, a question during Roizen’s talk hosted by the Federation May 4. 

Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer emeritus at Cleveland Clinic, stressed physical distancing, hand washing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and other less commonly known measures to best protect yourself and others from COVID-19 as states start to re-open.

He discussed the precautions in a virtual talk May 4 hosted by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in Beachwood. The free event drew hundreds of attendees across the nation and was moderated by Dan Zelman, vice chairman of the Federation.

“You protecting you is different from you protecting others,” Roizen said.

When it comes to protecting others, Roizen advised physically distancing at least 6 feet away from others; wearing cloth or N95 masks; quarantining if symptoms like cough, fever and diarrhea arrive; and testing and quarantining to shed the virus.

“Physical distancing and N95 masks work for both you and others,” Roizen said. “If you’re over 70 or have one of those co-morbidities, you should really consider making sure you physically distance 12 feet at most times and use an N95 mask until we get a vaccine or an effective treatment.”

To protect yourself from the virus, Roizen encouraged physically distancing at least 12 feet away from others in public; staying in isolation as much as possible; hand washing, especially before touching one’s face or eating; wearing personal protective equipment including gloves, hats and masks; and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, eight hours of sleep a night, stress management, exercise and more.

Less commonly referred to, he also urged heating or reheating meals that weren’t cooked at home at 140 degrees for 15 minutes to kill any possibility of the virus in food.

“This virus not only gets you through the respiratory tract, but through the (gastrointestinal) tract,” Roizen said. “In fact, almost 80% of people have GI symptoms now. If you take food out from a take-out place, you should really reheat it before you eat it because the virus lives in that food and can cause you disease.”

Roizen then answered questions from the audience, ranging from groceries to children to mail.

A detail that came up in almost every answer was that unless someone was over 70, dealing with uncontrollable co-morbidities like hypertension, cancer, chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis, respiratory disease, diabetes or obesity, one may be fine to safely re-enter society.

“If you’re under 60, you’re at very low risk of getting a severe problem from this,” Roizen said.

If a treatment isn’t soon discovered, Roizen warned of an increase in “diseases of despair” such as drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide.

Experts believe there is a negative correlation between the virus and warm weather, so while there could be some relief from the virus over the summer, a fall return is plausible, he said.

“If we don’t have a treatment that is very effective, it will come back sometime between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15,” Roizen said.

Publisher’s note: Dr. Michael Roizen writes a regular health column for the Cleveland Jewish News.

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