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Last updated: September 24th, 2020, 11 AM PST
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Dr. Chad Ruffin

ENT Doc and CI Surgeon

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COVID-19 Latest Updates

From the desk of Dr. Chad Ruffin:

Do Facial Shields Prevent COVID-19 Transmission?

August 18, 2020

Facial shields may be a way around masks. They seem to decrease the amount of inhaled flu virus. Flu is another respiratory virus like COVID-19 that has similar transmission dynamics. In addition, shields may keep hands from faces better than masks. They also protect virus from landing inside the eyes.

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New Seminar Series: WFH, Quarantine Economy, & Using Accessibility to Proactively Change Organizations

May 6, 2020

Remote work. Zoom fatigue. Economic uncertainty. Anxiety? Sure, but this is the time for the deaf and hard of hearing to change work culture. Join us to learn how to take this opportunity to build better remote culture for better collaboration and less videoconferencing and meetings.

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Part 2 of COVID-19 for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing: Communicating in the Hospital

April 30, 2020

In the hospital, COVID-19 creates unique challenges for those with hearing loss. COVID-19 patients are separated from other other patients into “respiratory isolation.” This means that masks and noisy air purifiers are widely used. Masks that muffle the voice and prevent lipreading. Unlike other medical settings, masks will not be lowered so that you can lipread.

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Part 1 of COVID-19 for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing: How Hospitals Work

April 29, 2020

Have a plan in place before you get sick. Being prepared ahead of time is key. In an epidemic, the hospital can be overwhelming. You may be in a temporary isolation tent or placed in a hallway. You may not have access to communication tools that you usually get. Again, being prepared ahead of time is key. Make a plan with your family if you’re not ready.

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Video: Dr. Ruffin discusses COVID-19 at

March 27, 2020

Dr. Ruffin was a guest speaker at virtual event and answered questions about COVID-19. Lightbox also hosted three other speakers on mental and financial health.

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🦻Update on COVID-19 for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing

March 21, 2020

If you are admitted to a hospital for COVID-19, you will be confined to a respiratory isolation ward and separated from your loved ones. The experience of a cochlear implant patient will drive this home below. Dr. Ruffin and other experts have discussed JP’s experience and believe that DHH people should prepare beyond our original recommendations.

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🦻COVID-19 and the Deaf/Hard-of Hearing Community

March 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is on track to become the greatest disruption to society since World War II. The U.S. has declared a state of emergency to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Currently the recommendations are to stay 6 feet away from other people and to practice social distancing.

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Figure 1: Estimated deaths by calendar date. From University of Washington.

What you need to know

U.S cases:  6,999,985 cases | 203,723* deaths,  14 September, 2020.

  • 1 week ago: 14 September:  6,690,859 | 198,157.
  • 1 September:  6,202,705 | 187,927.
  • 1 August:  4,726,234 | 157,041.
  • 1 July:  2,748,902 | 130,273.
  • 1 June:  1,851,951 | 106,622.
  • 1 May:  1,132,201 | 65,592.
  • 1 April:  217,540 | 4,723.
  • 1 March:  30 | 1.
  • 1 February:  8 | 0.
  • First case 22 January, 2020:  1 | 0.

Sources: Johns Hopkins, 1Point3Acres

* Includes probable deaths.

(Figure 1) APRIL IS GOING TO BE 👉🏽👉🏽👉🏽 BAD 👈🏽👈🏽👈🏽
As many as 90,000 dead by May 1

On a single day of April 15, we expect 2,271 COVID-19 deaths.
By May 1, there will be a shortfall of by 61,509 beds and 26,753 ventilators (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Estimated shortfall of hospital and ICU beds by calendar date. From University of Washington.

Map of US showing predicted case burden by state from New York Times

What you need to do

Stay at home and continue social distancing

Expect pandemic to be a marathon like World War II. But we’ve got this: 100 things to do during social distancing, good art vibes from art community, 🆕👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻 Learn from an astronaut how to survive isolation👩‍🚀🚀. 🆕Understand grief. See our mental health tips.

Stay healthy

Exercising before becoming infected can improve outcomes. Healthcare system in current overhaul to enable patients to visit doctor remotely. Gratitude journals improve mental health. See how to quarantine or what to do if you are sick.

Plan financially

Create a 90 day financial plan to stay at home for 90 days. See financial health section for ideas.

Best online source for what to do during COVID-19: Consumer Reports. They accept no advertising and have great articles.

Must read links related to the pandemic

What is COVID-19

Why this outbreak isn’t “like flu.”

Animated figure showing how social distancing can “flatten the curve” to prevent overburdening of the healthcare system.

Social distancing lowers the rate of COVID-19 infections so that hospitals don’t get overwhelmed and start rationing care for all diseases.

One person transmits COVID-19 to 3 other people. Social distancing saves lives!


The degree of virus spread in the U.S. is unknown. Testing has not been widespread due to regulations at the federal level. These regulations have been changed and testing expected to rapidly become more widespread.

Animals and pets do not seem to become infected. It is unknown if they can transmit disease. See this FAQ from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

What are symptoms & what do I do if I have Covid?

Figure showing common symptoms of COVID-19 compared to cold and flu symptoms

Check the CDC’s COVID-19 symptom checker. Most people will not have symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Rarely diarrhea, stomach upset, and loss of smell can occur. It is hard to tell what’s COVID-19 versus some other cold or flu.  

If you have symptoms, presume that you are sick and see below for a summary of the CDCs recommendations.

  • Relax. You will very likely be o.k. Treat symptoms like the flu or any other cold.
  • Use acetaminophen (tylenol), not ibuprofen (advil) or other NSAIDS for symptoms.
  • Call your doctor to see if you should remain at home, be seen in clinic, or go to the emergency department. Your physician can tell you how long you need to self-isolate.
  • See your state department of health to see if there is a testing center near you & that you are up-to-date for the latest info in your area.
  • Self-isolate. Stay home if you’re sick and have people deliver groceries and meds for you.
  • Don’t share food.
  • Wear a mask when you are around others.
  • Get medical attention immediately for:
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Make sure you read the CDC’s recommendations.

What to do if you are not sick

Practice social distancing (more in depth link) and prepare for an outbreak. Consumer Reports is a great resource.

  1. Stay 6 feet away from everyone except for those you’re sleeping with.
  2. Avoid large gatherings of people. go to supermarket and use public transportation at off-peak times. Refrain from shaking hands and hugging. Schedule errands at off-peak times.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  4. Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol if you are unable to wash your hands.
  5. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  6. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing by coughing into your elbow.
  7. Prepare for extended time of social distancing. Get prescriptions and food necessary for 2 weeks in case shortages occur.
  8. Exercising before becoming infected can improve outcomes.
  9. Masks worn by well people at home does not prevent getting COVID-19 from a sick person. Only infected persons should wear masks. Proper use of masks requires training.

If you have diabetes or problems with your lungs, heart, or blood pressure, you are at higher risk. See the CDC’s recommendations.

Medical Myths Corrected

There is currently no preventative or therapeutic medication for COVID-19.

No change to outpatient blood pressure medications recommended.

Avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen/Advil for symptoms and use acetaminophen/Tylenol instead.

Viral shedding after recovery from COVID-19 is not currently thought to be transmissible. Generally patients are thought to be unable to transmit virus 3 days after symptoms resolve or are improving. See “when to discontinue home isolation.”

Caring for mental health during the outbreak

Stress can show up in a variety of ways. See American Psychological Association recommendations to maintain sanity and good spirits during social distancing. This non-medical article is a great to-do list for establishing routines and activity suggestions. See therapist’s James Guay’s COVID-19 Survival guide.

  • Limit checking in with news/social media to twice daily
  • Eat healthy, stay hydrated.
  • Communicate with friends and colleagues via telephone or videochat. This is better than texting for mental health.
  • Exercise
  • Volunteer and continue your hobbies.
  • 👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻 Learn from an astronaut how to survive isolation.

If you are thinking of harming yourself, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline  at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Financial Health

How banks, lenders, and landlords will handle the COVID-19 cash crunch is rapidly evolving. See FDIC and SBA resources below.

Expect to stay in place for 3 months.

Create a 90 day financial plan:

  1. First assess your necessities.
  2. Create a budget of income vs. expenses.
  3. Consult government resources.
  4. Federal resources:
  5. 👉🏻👉🏻👉🏻 FAQ and list of resources for insight into status of loans and mortgages
  6. U.S. Small Business Administration
  7. State resources: For ideas consult the financial resources for impacted businesses and individuals for State of Washington and City of Seattle. Even if you live in another state, they can provide ideas for what’s available in your state.

If by 2021, “only” a few people die

It will be one of the finest hours of America, as the public healthcare system worked. Asian countries are ahead of the U.S. on COVID-19 because they learned from SARS in 2002. Because of COVID-19, we will be able to learn from this and apply to pandemics in the future.

For healthcare providers

Patient Reviews of Chad Ruffin, MD

Dr. Ruffin is committed to providing every patient with outstanding care. Hear what patients of Dr. Ruffin have to say about their experience with him.

See all reviews

Dr. Ruffin was the first person in over 10 years to actually take the time to really listen to me. He took the time to figure out what’s actually going on without chalking it up to something simple and sending me on my way.

Liz H.

I really appreciated Chad's honesty with options, having surgery being a last result and most of all explaining everything in layman's terms. I couldn't be happier with my experience and really appreciate him getting to the bottom of my ear issue and making it feel better than it ever has!

Mathew M.

Dr. Ruffin was incredibly knowledgeable, thorough and compassionate. He took the time to fully understand the issues and was able to provide immediate relief. Nothing short of a miracle here. Furthermore, the entire team was very kind and professional. One of the best medical experiences I have had!

Brian F.