On Wednesday evening, Tampa epidemiologist and chair of the USF Department of Internal Medicine Dr. John Sinnott participated in a live, online conversation with Dr. Mohsen Milani of USF’s Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies regarding COVID-19 called “The COVID Crisis: From ‘What If’ to ‘Now What?’” Sinnott’s insights touched on the 1917-1918 Spanish flu (“Much of what we learned in 1918 we’ve managed to forget by 2020”), latex gloves (“They remind you not to touch your face...but don’t be handling them, because they could be covered in virus”), and the “herd-immunity” approach being used in countries like Sweden (“They’re taking a big chance”).

Sinnott noted that the Tampa area has been dealing with the original Chinese strain of the virus, which has a lower mortality rate (about 2 percent) than the strain seen in New York (about 7 percent mortality), a mutation that originated in Milan, Italy.

Sinnott also dismissed theories that COVID-19 was a man-made infection, though he noted that the current crisis demonstrates how unprepared the country is for actual bioterrorism.

When asked about a return to “normal time,” Sinnott compared the COVID-19 crisis to 9/11: “We will never return to normal after this,” he said. “There’s going to be a catastrophic depression. People will be full of fear about being infected. It’s going to take us longer than we think.”

He added, “If we do everything right, we can probably stop wearing masks in 2022.”

Dr. John Sinnott’s Recommendations for stemming the COVID-19 Impact

  • The No. 1 thing that’s simple to do: If you don’t have kidney or liver disease, you should be taking 4,000 units of vitamin D daily. I can’t clear infections if they’re low on vitamin D. Do I take them every day? Religiously. Two small capsules.”
  • “No one should be around other people, outside their family, without a mask. At a grocery store Saturday night, the woman in front of me was sweating profusely, coughing and had no mask on. Masks don’t just protect you; they protect other people from your droplets. And she was coughing everywhere. I just left the store.”
  • “You should be washing your hands every hour. You don’t know what you’re touching.”
  • “Avoid elevators. They’re crowded and pneumatic with dramatic changes in air pressure, and an ideal place to pick up a virus.”
  • “At a grocery store, you see people pick up an item and put it back on the shelf. That virus can live three to four days on that can. [After purchasing,] I will spray that off with a solution of alcohol, or alcohol and Windex, just let it dry, and then it’s nontoxic.”
  • “Outside, when you’re around someone else, I want you to think of them smoking a cigarette. Where would that smoke go? Envision that smoke as coronavirus. It’s clearly spread by speaking, and it’s clearly airborne.”
  • “People should not take Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve or any of these non-steroidal groups of compounds. They should only be taking Tylenol for their aches and pains.”
  • “Finally, people should follow public health recommendations and, in the fall, get the influenza vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine.”
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