Gentry grad and physician talks COVID-19

By BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,

Some health officials are hoping the reopening of many businesses and restaurants across the nation and within the state will not give residents a false sense of security as it relates to the continued threat and severity of COVID-19.

Gov. Tate Reeves has said that his “Safer-at-Home” order will only remain in place until May 25, and many are already beginning a return to normal activities and seemingly ignoring the prescribed precautions.

Many health professionals are cautioning people not to take the dreaded virus lightly and continue adhering to measures that can possibly slow the spread of the disease.

One such person is Dr. Derrick Hamilton, a 1993 graduate of Gentry High School and a pediatrics professional with 20 years of experience in the medical field.

Hamilton has attempted to share this message of stay the course with people through appeals on social media and in one of his recent Facebook posts he emphasized that the move to reopen businesses is economic-based and has nothing to do with preserving life.

“Many of you guys feel that that (the re-opening) means this thing is over, I can tell you most definitely that it is not,” Hamilton said.

In an interview on Monday, he alluded that a failure to adhere to the medically-advised precautions could lead to a spike in the number of positive cases and deaths.

"This is a new disease that should be taken seriously.”

He said too many people are relying on non-medical advice retrieved from the internet.

“I think your knowledge base should come from reputable resources such as the CDC and your medical professionals and not from really any place else," he said.

Hamilton said although the internet can be great for spreading a lot of information, it can also be a less reliable source when people start to believe unfounded data.

He encourages the public to listen to the health professionals and not get their medical advice from social media or other internet sites not validated by the medical society.

Hamilton said there are many misconceptions surrounding the COVID-19 virus and as a medical professional it is his responsibility to dispel the falsehoods.

“One point I want to make sure that people understand is that a negative test on Monday does not mean that you did not catch the disease on the following day when you went grocery shopping,” Hamilton said.

He added, “There are many people that catch the disease while they are waiting to get their negative results. They then foolishly discontinue social distancing because somehow they feel that if the test was negative once, then they are infinitely negative.”

There are also numerous opinions floating around and those apparently entice the public to believe or become distracted by individual agendas and in an apparent reference to that,  Hamilton said, "The truth is this is a very new disease that we still don't know how to treat, there's no medical cure for it. It has definitely proven to be more dangerous than the flu and it is something that people should definitely take seriously."

Hamilton said whereas the flu would produce a point one percent mortality rate, the Coronavirus produces a 2 to 2.5% mortality rate, and medical professionals are still learning new things about the virus every day.

He added that nationwide because of the lack of viable treatment for the coronavirus, the protocol is basically go home until you are sick enough to go to the hospital.

"Nationwide, if you catch coronavirus, you stay at home until you're too sick to stay at home, then you go to the hospital and we'll try to treat you," he said.

Hamilton also addressed the talk surrounding a cure, medicine or an immunizing agent for the coronavirus and said that although it is ambitious to think the medical society will have a vaccine by fall, it is not impossible.

“I'm not saying that it won't happen, but in a smart virus like this, it's quite possible that it won't be even as effective as the flu virus vaccine,” Hamilton said, “The flu mutates every year and the people still catch it.”

According to him, there are medicines being tested to work against the virus and a few have shown some improvements.

“However, it's still too early to say that this medicine is not more dangerous to take or it's even the right medicine. Initially everyone was saying Hydroxychloroquine was a great medicine, but then it just didn't turn out to be that way," Hamilton asserted.

He said they should know fairly soon if the medicine is helping. Nonetheless, even if it does, it is an IV administered medication so a person would actually have to have the virus and be admitted to a hospital in order to get it. He stressed that there are currently no pills or medicines that can be prescribed for this virus and a vaccine could take over a year to develop.

Like Dr. Leslie Ray Matthews, Hamilton is also an advocate of the use of vitamin D to ward off and assist in the treatment of this virus. He said Matthews' research is proven whereas a lot of other proposed remedies and herbal cures offer no scientific proof, which is why he advocates the use of vitamin D.

He said African-Americans should especially adopt a regimen of daily vitamin D use because their lifestyle is not typically fashioned to allow natural retrieval from the sun. And research has shown that dark skinned individuals are succumbing to the disease at a much higher rate than others. In addition, research has also shown that those with low vitamin D levels experience a high mortality rate.

Hamilton emphasized, “This pandemic is the worst occurrence of modern times. It is a global killer. However, people are not able to recognize it because they are blinded by their own circumstances. Their disregard stems from the benefit that they have received from stimulus checks and unemployment benefits. As a result, many people search the internet only to find a disreputable source that aligns with their wants. Unfortunately, this makes them naïve volunteers for science experiments as doctors attempt to figure this thing out.”

When asked what we should we be doing, Hamilton said make sure you wash your hands and practice social distancing.

“For our young people, even if you're not worried that it kills you, you must consider the elderly people that most of our 18 to 30-year-olds live with. If you don't want to wipe out the most wise people in our generation, then I suggest that we stay at home and try our best to limit the disease at least until we can find some form of treatment or vaccine.”

Hamilton is a graduate of Tougaloo College, Brown University, and completed his residency at the University of Tennessee LeBonheur Children's Hospital.

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