By Alexandra Radovic
How does the virus attack? Why do masks work? Is it safe to go out?
These are some of the questions Dr. Stephanie Trifoglio, a geriatric medicine specialist working in Greenbelt, answered during a webinar, “COVID-19, It’s Complicated!” sponsored by Hyattsville Aging in Place (HAP) on Aug. 8.
“I hope you will feel … empowered, feel more protected and able to cope with everything that’s going on in the world,” Trifoglio said to the 96 attendees. “There are many many things we can do to keep ourselves safe.”
Trifoglio confirmed that the coronavirus is transmitted mainly through direct contact. Therefore, she suggested that people avoid touching their faces, shaking hands or hugging others.
She also suggested disinfecting frequently touched household surfaces twice a day with two teaspoons of bleach per cup of water, and emphasized the importance of wearing a mask.
“Masks really do matter,” Trifoglio said. “Anything that cuts down on transmission matters.”
She recommended using either an N95 respirator mask, which blocks 95% of infectious particles, or a standard medical mask. And she explained that medical masks are most effective if users pinch them to their noses, forming them to their face shape.
Trifoglio also suggests visiting with people outdoors, although only in small groups. “Getting together six feet apart [for] outdoor activities, … that is much much safer,” Trifoglio said. “Indoors is not.”
She added that air circulation reduces transmission of the virus. “Right now, air is your friend,” she said. “If you can get outside during this period, I think that’s great. … If you can be on a deck, and it’s big, get a fan.”
Participants said they appreciated Trifoglio’s tips and will apply them.
“I liked the way [Trifoglio] broke down the coronavirus and why it has crowns,” said Sarah Harper, who attended the event. “It was helpful to have a little more in-depth knowledge of what the virus is and how it can infect people.”
Harper said before Trifoglio’s talk, she didn’t know flu droplets were very light and could travel longer distances than coronavirus droplets, which are heavier.
“I had slacked off washing my hands for 20 seconds,” Harper said. “[The webinar] was a good reminder of how you were supposed to wash your hands.”
According to Lisa Walker, HAP’s chair, the webinar event was a great success.
“With so much confusion over whether it is safe to go out, to travel, and the increasing number of cases, we thought it was time to have a serious presentation with a population that continues to be at risk,” explained Walker.
“Dr. T[rifoglio] has spoken at HAP events annually for a while now, and her conversations are always well received.”
Trifaglio previously gave a presentation to Hyattsville residents about how to use community resources to help citizens with dementia.
The COVID-19 program was presented cooperatively with Helping Hands University Park (HHUP). Walker said that HHUP has an active Zoom events program, so partnering with them brought Trifoglio to a larger audience.
Loretta Vitale Saks, HHUP chairperson, added that the organization was delighted to co-sponsor the virtual program on COVID-19 with HAP.
“Dr. Stephanie Trifoglio practices in the only geriatric medical practice in our county and is an extraordinary physician and educator,” Stalks said. “After the program, one HHUP member told me, ‘She answered questions I didn’t even know I had.’”