MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ - Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has come to Monmouth County. With case counts growing, including two in Hazlet, one in Manalapan, and two in Little Silver, it is here.

Sadly, the first death in NJ linked to Coronavirus, occurred in Bergen County earlier this week.

The virus that was at a time far away, now has our full attention.

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So, in order to better understand the stream of information, links to CDC and the flood of data, we looked to a very highly regarded family practitioner in the area: Dr. Brendan Mulholland.

We asked Dr. Mulholland five key questions. His responses are shared in the interview below, to provide one-on-one up-to-date information from a local trusted doctor.

TAPinto: How severe is the threat of Corona Virus?

Dr. Mulholland: The severity of COVID 19 is not truly known. There are several factors to consider, such as the contagiousness and the degree of illness. Expert opinions vary widely as the data has been lacking. The information coming from China, has not been independently verified to any great degree, and therefore expert opinions have been varied. We do know that children have been largely spared of significant illness but can be a vector to spread the virus. The elderly and the chronically ill are much more susceptible to the most serious consequences. The experts however all agree that we must be prudent and error on the side of caution, which is why we are seeing cancellations including everything from air travel to major events. Anything we can reasonably do to reduce the person-to-person transmission will benefit New Jersey, America, and all nations.

TAPinto: What specific steps are you taking to mitigate the risks of Corona Virus?

Dr. Mulholland: As the owner of 4 primary care offices, I have significant responsibility to care for not only those afflicted by illness, but to prevent other individuals and medical providers/staff from contracting the viral illness. Specifically, what we have done is to take two of our offices (Shrewsbury Family Medicine and River Road Primary Care) and have made them into “Corona free zones.”  At those two offices we are not seeing any sick individuals. This will allow healthy individuals who need to see a provider a safe place to receive care, while limiting their risk to many germs, including COVID 19, to the best of our ability. We have also canceled non-critical visits for our elderly population, unless seeing a physician is absolutely necessary.

At our other two offices, Red Bank Family Medicine and Hazlet Family Care, we are seeing ill patients. However, to best protect all of our patients and staff, we are asking ill patients not to come into the office. Instead, they pull up to the office, and while they are parked, we begin to take their history over the phone. At that time our physicians make a clinical decision whether to invite the individual into the office, or if necessary, they will be seen outside.  The healthcare providers will don personal protective equipment to mitigate transmission risks to themselves, and others. In our current situation it is most prudent to take as much caution as reasonably possible. 

TAPinto: Who is being tested for COVID 19?

Dr. Mulholland: Currently the criteria for COVID 19, testing is severely limited. There are most likely several factors contributing to the stringent regulations, but this may change as more tests become available to primary care physicians. As of this moment the Department of Health is allowing testing for COVID 19, if 2 out of 3 of the following criteria are met: 

A. Individuals must be sick with a fever, cough or shortness of breath.

B. UPDATE 03/13 11AM- THIS CRITERIA (ITEM B) HAS BEEN LIFTED BY THE CDC, TO MAKE TEST MORE ACCESSIBLE. THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA NO LONGER APPLIES:  The individual has a known direct contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID 19. 

C. The individual has recently traveled to the known endemic areas such as China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, and Japan.

These criteria are obviously going to exclude many individuals looking for testing, but again we are hoping as testing becomes more available, those guidelines will be loosened. Individuals looking for testing would be better served by contacting their physician for the most up to date information rather than just showing up at their doctor's office

TAPinto: Any advice for individuals who think they may have been exposed to the virus or are not feeling well?

Dr. Mulholland: For individuals who think they might have been exposed to COVID 19, or are simply not feeling well, my best advise is to simply self isolate themselves and call their physician.  A person’s physician who knows an individuals' health history will be the greatest resource. In our practice we have asked patients to self-isolate and to check in with us daily to monitor their progress. Likewise, personal hygiene, especially frequent hand washing with commercial antiseptic products, will also go along way in helping to reduce viral transmission. 

TAPinto: Any final words of wisdom for the community?

Dr. Mulholland: Finally, my most prudent advice is for individuals to STAY CALM.  Television is filled with "experts" making all sorts of claims and dire predictions. The wild gyrations of the stock market, events and schools shutting down all add to the hyped hysteria. We as a nation will come through this in due time and will learn valuable lessons from the experience. America has the greatest health system in the world and will overcome this latest malady and the many others we will surely face moving forward.

TAPinto: Thank you Dr. Mulholland!

Dr. Mulholland is a board certified family practitioner based in Red Bank, NJ.

He completed his residency training and surgical internship at Penn State University Hospital and received his Medical Degree and a Masters Degree in Physiology from Georgetown University. He received his undergraduate degree in biology from Villanova University.

Dr. Mulholland’s thriving practice focuses on the entire family, from children to adults and seniors, with a special emphasis on the care of diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and weight management.

This sponsored content is brought to TAPinto readers from Hazlet Family Care and Dr. Brendan Mulholland. The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for