Coronavirus is a very bad disease. It is a disease that will take lives. 

But as of now, no one in our beautiful Rio Grande Valley has died. 

We must try to communicate with our population and relay to them the importance of us all working together.

Unfortunately, this epidemic will get worse. Only together, not only the healthcare professionals in the trenches, the academic scientists who are working night and day to come up with a treatment or a vaccine, but even our beautiful Valley families. 

Those that are living and breathing and staying healthy, it is very important to try and listen to the declaration by our community, our county judges and most important, our physicians – your physicians, in the trenches, accessible to you night and day, if you have any questions. 

There is no doubt this epidemic will get worse. But, working together, our patients, our health care providers, our hospital staff, we can all get together and work in one direction to prevent loss of life in our community. 

The goal in all of this, especially for those of us in the Rio Grande Valley, is to keep the virus from spreading. The only way we can do that is to follow the direction, not only follow the science, but follow the recommendations of those that are developing some of the preventive measures, such as shelter in place. 

It is a know fact that if we stay away from crowds, if we stay within our home in our community, and only socialize with family members, and still follow that social distancing of six feet, we can certainly try to curtail the amount of cases that will still develop.

There are individuals out there who have the virus and who are not symptomatic. Hear me well, they can also infect other people. In our community and in our culture, we have multi-cultural and multi-generational homes, where we have the grandmother and the mother and the children. And the child and the mother may be quite healthy but the grandmother has lots of chronic diseases. They are so much more susceptible to a severe case of the COVID-19 virus. 

If you are healthy, if you are young and you develop the virus, eight out of ten individuals are able to survive the infection by simply following simple procedures in their home setting. Treating the symptoms as if it were the flu. 

Obviously, if you have severe symptoms, if you have a severe cough, if you are developing a shortness of breath, it is very important to seek emergency help, through your physician or through your hospital. The problem with hospitals, unfortunately, is they are getting inundated and the population of the inpatient is now becoming more and more COVID related. 

It is important, nevertheless, to try to stay home. If you develop symptoms, call your physician, they are the fellows on the frontline, they are the ones who are making themselves available to their patients, 24 hours a day. 

As much as I don’t want to say this, this epidemic has not reached its peak, but together, following the rules, following the science, we can curtail the amount of infections in our beautiful Valley. We can stop this sooner rather than later. It is accelerating. 

Lastly, let me just tell you this. There are very few reported cases in comparison to the rest of the state. Let’s all work together, let’s all do this as the community of the Rio Grande Valley and avoid any further epidemic-proportion victims who may not survive. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was based on the opening remarks Dr. Linda Villarreal, MD, delivered at a telephone town hall meeting hosted by state Sen. Eddie Lucio on March 27, 2020. Villarreal is chair of the board of trustees of the Texas Medical Association.