Infectious Diseases

4/8/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is interviewed for a story on when the pandemic might peak in Western New York. He said, “I think that things are gonna get back to normal when the number of new infectious cases approaches zero." Russo added that we just don't know when exactly that will be yet, but that if society stays vigilant, that day will come sooner rather than later.
4/7/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is quoted in a story on how to properly remove and dispose of protective gloves. The difficulty of taking off and decontaminating gloves is a reason Russo does not recommend them to the general public. “Even if you remember to decontaminate your gloves, you might not be able to do it optimally,” Russo said. 
4/3/20
In Buffalo and its suburbs, the number of coronavirus cases has been doubling every three days. Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, says Erie County likely has 10 times more cases than reported. The increasing number of cases comes as hospitals in the region have faced downsizing and consolidation in recent years. Before the coronavirus crisis, there were about 275 permanent intensive-care beds — about half of them at three major hospitals in Erie County. So far, about one-fourth of those beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, according to Erie County’s health commissioner, Gale R. Burstein, MD, who is a clinical professor of pediatrics.
4/3/20
There is insufficient research to say that witch hazel can kill bacteria or viruses, says Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “With coronavirus, there’s absolutely no reason to use any sort of product on your skin other than regular soap and water, or if you have one of those hand alcohol based hand sanitizers,” Russo says. He encourages people to follow social distancing and recommends practicing good hand hygiene as well as disinfecting high-touch surfaces. “My recommendation would be 0.1 percent bleach or 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide. Those are compounds that have been tested that we know inactivates this virus,” he says. 
3/31/20
Articles about the chances of people living in apartment buildings contracting COVID-19 quote Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “Theoretically if someone is infected we are pretty confident as long as the person stays in the room the risk [of transmission] should be low,” Russo said. If you feel sick, “you need to go ahead and stay in the house … you should not go out unless you have no other options.”
3/30/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, was interviewed about the potential impact COVID-19 could have on Western New York. “A common question I’m getting is, ‘I want to have a small group gathering for Easter, can I do it safely?’ ” Russo said. “The answer is no, you can’t do so with 100 percent certainty. There’s the whole asymptomatic issue, which makes it impossible to be sure that you are not infected.” 
3/30/20
A report about two 1-year-old children in Niagara County diagnosed with COVID-19 quotes Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. “Nearly all children regardless if they are less than 1 or older are going to get through this without any serious consequences,” he said.
3/27/20
Articles about the fact that while beards may be covered in germs, they are likely not increasing a person’s chances of getting or spreading COVID-19 interview Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases, who explained the importance of trimming facial hair for health care workers: “For health care providers, beards present a problem because getting a good, tight fit for N-95 masks is difficult. Certainly, big fluffy beards are a big problem because unless they’re trimmed way back, you might not be able to get a good seal, making it not effective.”
3/27/20
A story about playing it safe when visiting local parks interviews Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases, who encouraged people to get outside. “Outside is better than inside. A lot more air volume to disperse the virus in exercise is good and we’re all getting a bit antsy inside. So I think that’s a great idea to take those walks to make sure you maintain your distance from others,” he said.
3/26/20
Thomas A. Russo MD, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases, was quoted in a  story in which he says Western New York is “at a critical tipping point.” Russo also said that “Even with optimal testing, it’s been estimated that detection of positive cases represents about 10 percent of the overall caseload. I think it’s quite certain that we probably have close to 2,000 plus cases.”
3/24/20
On the Shredd and Ragan show, Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, gave an update on COVID-19. “Cases are still on the rise in New York state, the country and globally,” Russo said. It’s important to note that documented cases are an underestimation of total actual cases, he explained, adding: “Our testing hasn’t quite been optimal.” Russo emphasized that if a person develops symptoms of the coronavirus, they should stay home to prevent spreading it. He recommended that if a person experiences shortness of breath, they should contact their health care provider to find out if they need further evaluation. Russo also briefly discussed clinical trials, a potential vaccine and the biology of coronaviruses. 
3/24/20
Healio Primary Care asked experts what the greatest weakness is in the country’s capacity to counter COVID-19. Alan J. Lesse, MD, said: “The lack of testing and inability to prepare for the large number of tests that we’re going to need to track and identify COVID-19 cases and prevent its spread is perhaps the United States’ greatest weakness when it comes to pandemic preparedness.” Lesse is senior associate dean for medical curriculum and an associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases. He is chief of infectious disease for the VA Western New York Healthcare System.
3/20/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases, fielded viewer questions related to the coronavirus on WKBW-TV. He covered potential resistance to the virus among those who have already been infected and how to deal with non-virus related medical care. He noted that someone who is scheduled for routine follow-up appointments who is not experiencing any problems or symptoms should stay home. “But if an acute problem develops or you have underlying disease and symptoms, then you should call your health care provider,” he said.
3/19/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, is quoted about supermarkets offering special hours for shoppers over 60 as a way to reduce the risk of exposure to the population most susceptible to the novel coronavirus. The well-intentioned concept is not necessarily safe, according to Russo. “Albeit a grocery store is fairly expansive in terms of airspace, it’s still an enclosed system,” Russo said. “It’s not quite as close quarters as a cruise ship, but it’s a variation of the model in my mind.”
3/19/20
Thomas A. Russo, MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, was interviewed about a recent study that found coronavirus could remain viable in the air for hours and on some surfaces for days. “I think the greatest risk remains if that person coughs or sneezes when you’re in close proximity. And that close proximity we’ve been talking about now to the best of our knowledge is six feet,” Russo explained. The findings suggest that the virus is detectable up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. “It survived less well on cardboard and copper. Copper does have some potential anti-viral activities. It survived longer on stainless steel and on plastic,” Russo said.