New Iberia doctor on COVID-19: "Quit panicking"

Posted at 12:01 AM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 01:03:40-04

NEW IBERIA — As of Thursday night, there are no presumed cases of COVID-19 in Acadiana, but that's not stopping local primary care physicians from preparing.

Dr. Robert Hankenhof's office in New Iberia now has five kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test for coronavirus.

So far, Hankenhof hasn't seen any patients who are showing signs of the disease, but his office is taking precautions.

"We put up signs. The signs basically say if you have cough, congestion, aches, fever, please do not enter the office," warned Hankenhof. "If you'll just hang outside, let us know, and we'll come out and do a quick triage. If I need to, I can see you out in the parking lot, see you in your car instead of bringing them in the office where they can expose people that don't have it."

The primary care physician says when it comes to the coronavirus, it's important for people not to panic.

"Everybody thinks that, 'Oh, coronavirus is going to come in. It's going to kill off thousands of people. It's just going to sweep through. This is going to be this horrible disease.' And, it's not. It's not any worse than the flu." Hankenhof continues, "Everything that we're doing now to try to keep from not getting the flu, you have to do the same thing with the coronavirus."

Prevention is key. Don't touch your face. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to completely rid them of all germs. (Some say a good way to practice that is by singing the chorus of your favorite song.) Hand sanitizer doesn't hurt either.

Although Hankenhof says the virus will likely hit Acadiana at some point, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"It's going to come through. It's something that we're going to have to deal with. It'll pass," said Hankenhof. "How long it'll take? Probably a few months, three to four months, and it should get better. Just like the flu."