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Thoughts on COVID-19

From Dr. William K. Watterson

Drive up COVID testing is available at Rockwell Physicians

I know everyone is eager for concrete information regarding the vaccine. Unfortunately, the process for distributing vaccine has been largely aspirational and, as many of you have noted, is in flux.

Currently, much of Virginia is in phase 1a. Northern Virginia and the Roanoke area are in phase 1b. Richmond has announced they will move into phase 1b on the 17th. Just to add to the confusion Gov. Northam expanded the definition of phase 1b which lowered the age from 75 to 65 years old and includes those younger with “an underlying medical condition”.

However, the supply of vaccine and its distribution remains problematic. Chesterfield has yet to complete phase 1a and is currently working to get long term care facilities immunized.

Rockwell Physicians has applied to the Virginia Department of Health (last year) to be a vaccinator but, as yet, has not received any notice of when vaccine would be available to us.

My current recommendation for those who fit into phase 1b to obtain the vaccine in whatever venue is first available. I suspect, big box pharmacies will be part of the distribution and, perhaps, prior to availability to our practice.

The Virginia Department of Health has a registration website that is collecting information on those wishing to be vaccinated. The intent appears to be to notify registrants when vaccine will be available to them.

I do recommend the vaccine for most of you. You should consider avoiding or delaying if: 

  • Allergic to vaccine ingredients (rare).
  • Separate any other vaccinations by at least 2 weeks.
  • I would also recommend that if you have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 that you delay taking the vaccine for at least 3 months. The SIREN study (released last week) from the UK, suggests that natural immunity is 83-99% for at least 5 months.

The current phase 1b recipients include:

Frontline essential workers (eg. Police, fire, childcare workers, corrections, grocery store workers).

Those 65 years are older (formerly 75+).

Those 16-64 years old with underlying medical conditions (including obesity, smoking).

Those living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters.

  • COVID-19 primarily spreads via respiratory droplets produced when an infected individual coughs or sneezes and then is inhaled by another. This is the MAIN means of transmission.
  • Surfaces or objects touched can be a vehicle for transmission when you touch the object/surface and then touch your mouth, nose or eyelids. This is a secondary means of transmission.

Not so fun facts:              

  1. An uncovered cough or sneeze can propel droplets several feet, smaller droplets can travel over 20 feet. These can be directly inhaled or land on surfaces to be touched.
  2. A flushed toilet can aerosolize the virus in a plume that can spread over 6 feet. Before flushing, close the lid. When possible, avoid public restrooms.
  3. The COVID-19 virus is relatively easily transmitted from person to person (at least 2-2.5x more likely to infect another than the flu)

Public health concerns are primarily 2-fold

  1. The first is to slow the rate of infection to prevent available medical resources from being overwhelmed.
  2. And to protect vulnerable populations like the elderly and those with chronic underlying health issues.
  • Don’t panic. For most people this illness will be a cold like illness.
  • However, if you are feeling ill with worsening symptoms and/or shortness of breath, please schedule an appointment for us to evaluate you.
  • Be kind and considerate in order to limit the spread of the virus to protect the vulnerable. You have no doubt heard the term “social distancing”. This simply means to live your life quietly and peaceably at home. Avoiding events and larger social gatherings reduces the probability of the virus jumping to multiple hosts.
  • If you are in contact with someone who is known to be infected, there is an up to 14-day incubation period in which you may develop symptoms. Unfortunately, you may begin to spread the virus.
    1. With frequent handwashing (soap and water preferred to hand sanitizer)
    2. Avoid touching your face with your hands
    3. If you have symptoms of fever, cough, runny nose that feel like a cold…STAY HOME. There is no specific treatment for this virus. However, if you begin to have shortness of breath or worsening symptoms then you need to be seen.

We will continue to be available for all our patients.

In response to the expected increase in coronavirus cases, and to try and prevent unnecessary exposure risk, IF you are seeing us for shortness of breath, and/or fever, please park and then text our main number 804-897-6140 on arrival to let us know you have arrived. We will have someone meet you at your car and escort you to the exam room. We will provide you with a mask to wear during your stay. Please do NOT bring small children with you as we will not be able to have them come into the office with you.

Rest assured, we are enhancing our cleaning and sanitizing strategies in the office.


We are currently testing COVID with both rapid antigen and PCR tests.

Test results are provided to the Virginia Health Department who may reach out to identify close contacts and at risk individuals that should self-quarantine.

    • Call 804-897-6140 to schedule your appointment. We will make sure to get your current insurance information, car make and model. On arrival please text that you have arrived. Our staff will come to you!
    • You do not have to be a current patient of Rockwell Physicians to register for testing
    • Someone experiencing any of the following symptoms:
      • Fever
      • Shortness of breath
      • Cough
    • A healthcare employee
    • Someone who has a known exposure to the virus
  3. COST
    • If a patient has insurance, the insurance company is billed for a visit and Covid-19 swab.
    • Self- pay patients will pay a flat rate of $65 , which INCLUDES testing

Rockwell Physicians is offering COVID Antibody IgG Testing!

This blood draw measures antibody levels specific to the patient’s immune response after COVID-19 infection.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. The antibody testing is not used to diagnose acute COVID-19 infections. We are still using the nasal swabs to test if there are acute symptoms.
  2. According to the CDC website, “A serologic test may not be able to show if you have a current infection, because it can take 1-3 weeks to make antibodies after symptoms occur. We do not know yet if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last.”
  3. Testing turn around time – 3 days
  4. Some insurances are not covering this test.

Thank you so much for reading, staying informed, remaining calm, and taking all necessary precautions! Please call or text us with questions you may have. We appreciate our wonderful patients so much.

—Dr. W. Kevin Watterson and staff