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Covid-19, Coronavirus Disease 2019

Staying Healthy

(updated 3 April 2020)

Like many of you, COVID-19 is on our minds. We'll use this blog post to share our thoughts and links as we all go through this together.


(10 March 2020) Takeaway: hydroxychloroquine (brand name Plaquenil) may help prevent a fatal outcome if you become infected with COVID-19. Anecdotal only for now. 

(25 March 2020 update) Several small scientific trials now underway. I will update as I hear more.

(3 April 2020 update) As we await results from scientific trials, International poll of 6,000 doctors indicates hydroxychloroquine is "the most effective coronavirus treatment currently available."

(15 September 2020 update) scientific consensus concerning hydroxychloroquine has shifted *against* using this drug in treating COVID-19 patients.

In consultation with my Harvard-trained MD friends, I've learned that if you are in the highest-risk cohorts (e.g. age 70-80 and especially 80+) it may be advisable for you to discuss the idea of having a prescription of hydroxychloroquine on-hand for you to take once you become infected and have symptoms for 24-48 hours (e.g. malaise, low-grade fever temperature, myalgia i.e. sore muscles, dry cough). The hope (anecdotal results only thus far. Please refer to NIH paper below) is that this medicine may help reduce your chance of mortality by reducing your chances some of the worst possible symptoms of the infection, e.g. your own immune system overreacting so extremely that it could lead to fatality.

NIH scientific paper describing the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients.

(24 March 2020 update) hydroxychloroquine update: French researchers suggest that the use of azithromycin (Z-Pak) in conjunction with hydroxychloroquine may shorten the duration of COVID-19 infection.

(10 March 2020) Takeaway: zinc supplementation may help prevent you from catching COVID-19 and if you do catch it, help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.

According to this NIH (NCBI) paper, a meta-analysis shows that zinc supplementation can reduce the duration and severity of a cold and perhaps more interestingly may prevent colds (~36%!) in the first place. We are not doctors, so please do your own research, but we have started a prophylactic course of zinc sulfate (20mg daily for the adults and 10mg daily for the kids) The type of zinc is, evidently, important (so you can't just take a zinc lozenge or some other form of zinc). It's zinc sulfate. We went with this one we found on Amazon. $17.77 (update 13 March: our other link is currently out of stock. Here is another option $18.99; and another here $19.95). We just mix it into our morning smoothies.

Zinc Sulfate

(10 March 2020) Takeaway: proper air circulation/ventilation helps prevent you from catching COVID-19

This NIH (NCBI) paper goes into the details, but the bottom line is if you are smart about your air circulation you can go a long way toward preventing transmission of COVID-19. So, open the window! If you don't like open windows, take a look at fans and filters. We invested in a couple of different air purifiers. For our master bedroom and for each of the kids' rooms we bought Coway purifiers. For the office, we invested in an Austin Air unit. Bonus: when we started running these air purifiers it really helped with our seasonal allergies.


Health Mate Standard Purifier

(3 April 2020) Takeaway: Consider an inexpensive Pulse Oximeter to monitor your blood oxygen saturation levels if you are infected

What is Pulse Oximetry? Here is an explanation from Johns Hopkins. 

The idea is that until you reach dangerous levels of oxygen desaturation in your bloodstream your doctor will likely advise you treat your COVID-19 infection at home. Having one of these devices at home allows you to monitor your oxygen blood saturation levels.

There are a variety of pulse oximeters normally offered for around $50 (like this one) from Amazon although they appear to be coming in and out of stock at this time. On the high end, check out the Masimo MightySat if you are looking for a pulse oximeter for the longterm use (i.e. for workout optimization).

Pulse Oximeters

Takeaway: useful resources (e.g. videos, articles, blogs etc.) we are referring to as we keep current with all things COVID-19

(10 March 2020) Dr. Seheult (of has been posting his excellent COVID-19 Updates: youtube videos, sometimes quite technical but always informative.

(10 March 2020) Tomas Pueyo's Medium pieces on COVID-19. Especially Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now and now (19 March 2020) Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance.

(24 March 2020) Jonathan Smith's Hold the line Medium piece makes the compelling case for us to remain vigilant in our social distancing efforts (even as we now begin to tire of these efforts) from the perspective of an infectious disease epidemiologist.


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