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'It's gonna hit.': Doctor shares her concern over COVID-19 spread if we don't stay home

Dr. Paula Ross says she's worried we will soon see the real and devastating effects of the coronavirus if we don't stay home.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — You've heard a lot about social distancing and staying at home but what does it really mean and how can it help keep people safe from COVID-19? Dr. Paula Ross, a cardiologist with Cone Health Medical Group, spoke to the Four 2 Five's Maddie Gardner about why people should stay home. 

"This coronavirus is spread from person to person by droplets from our saliva, from our nose, and if you cough or sneeze it's about six feet that the particle can spread and land on someone," she said.

Dr. Ross said particles can be transferred from someone's hands to objects that you may touch later and pick up those particles. That's why the best thing we can do right now is not leave our houses.

"We want people to stay at home to distance people so there's not as much contact," she said. "If one person's infected, he's not symptomatic yet, he can spread disease to many people depending on where he goes during the day and what he touches."

For those who have to leave the house, for essential jobs, Dr. Ross says to sanitize surfaces, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. 

"This virus is something we've never seen before, this is totally new to us, we're reacting to it," she said.

Dr. Ross works with patients who have heart conditions. It's especially important, she says, for those with other medical problems to take precautions, no matter how old they are.

"Initially we were lulled into thinking, 'Oh, this virus isn't going to be so bad and only the very elderly are going to have problems. Younger people even younger people with medical problems shouldn't be as bad,'" she said. "But what we're finding is that actually people with pre-existing conditions, whether it's heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, lung disease, they have a higher rate of mortality."

The mortality rate of someone with heart disease, she says, is about ten times that of a person without heart disease. 

Dr. Ross says her biggest concern is we don't see the symptoms of COVID-19 until two weeks after exposure so people who are possibly infected are still going out and spreading the virus. 

"So there's a lull that, you know what, things are quiet now, we're doing pretty good, when we're staying at home thinking, 'Things are pretty good,'" she said. "But what we know looking at Italy, looking at China, looking at New York and Michigan, Chicago and Washington is that it's gonna hit. The people are infected and they're going to start to getting sick and that's when we're going to get overwhelmed."

She says staying home will help save lives. Nobody is immune to COVID-19 and Dr. Ross says she's worried we will soon see the effects of the virus. 

"These young people without heart disease, without lung disease or diabetes, they're dying and they're dying very, very fast. Within 24 to 48 hours they go from feeling okay to death and that's devastating."