Dr. Neel on the Corona Virus: “We can slow this down.”

Don’t panic….just stay home–

The following is an interview with Doctor Richard Neel, who served as one of the subject-matter experts in the United States Pentagon for military defense of chemical and biological weapons from 1998-2003. Dr. Neel also has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Harvard. Many locals will recognize him from the Little Alsace Urgent Care Clinic in Castroville.

“If everybody would just stay home for two weeks, it would stop the Corona Virus. In reality it’s not possible or practical for EVERYONE to stay home, but A LOT of people can stay home, and it would go a long way,” says Dr. Richard Neel. “Limit your person-to-person interaction and avoid large gatherings whenever possible. We have an opportunity to stop the spread right now, or at least slow it down to a crawl. And the sooner we stop the spread, the sooner we can get back to our normal lives.”

“The death rates of the Corona Virus are scary enough, but the additional percentage of people who survive the illness, who still become severely ill and wind up on a ventilator for a while and have permanent scarring to their lungs is looking like about 10-16%,” Neel said. “Look at the first patient in Italy (confirmed Feb.21st). They just announced that he was breathing on his own again a couple days ago, so he’s been a ventilator a long time, and he’s only 38 years old.”

“Statistics are evolving every day. As we are looking at data coming in from different countries, we are looking to the data that’s coming in from Italy and South Korea to get a better idea of what to expect and to hopefully learn lessons.”

“As far as I’m concerned, we haven’t had to deal with something this serious in my lifetime.  People are scared to speak up for fear of spreading misinformation, but everybody needs to hear and realize the seriousness of this, so that we can stop the spread of the virus,” Neel said.

He pointed to the way Italy’s medical facilities have been overwhelmed, and having to make decisions on who they will treat.

“Italy has good, modernized western medical capabilities, and they are already having to make decisions in Italy about who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t….That’s really sad, and we don’t want to get to that point,” Dr. Neel said.

“Italy went from 30 cases to 200 cases the next day, and then to 600 cases very quickly. We will find out very soon if Texas will spread the virus as rapidly as Italy did.”

Italy now has over 15,000 cases of Corona Virus.

“If you give this virus a chance, it’ll kill a lot more than the flu if as many people get infected with this virus as do with the flu. But we have an opportunity to stop it right now. It’s time for people to get on board and get serious about this. Make a few sacrifices in the short-term, so that we don’t have to deal with this in the long-term.”

“I am totally in favor of schools closing for 2 weeks, but please stay-put, and don’t go traveling across the country,” Neel said.

“It is possible to eradicate things like this virus. Small pox was eradicated. You just have to really get after it. Now, unlike small pox, this virus is spread in more ways than just person-to-person contact, but the way we eradicated small pox is a good example of what quarantine and isolation can do.”

“Two weeks is basically the incubation period for the virus. So if as many people as possible will stay home for two weeks, they can identify and self-isolate. A person can have the virus right now and be out there spreading the virus for two weeks before they ever become symptomatic,” Neel said.


Doctors now have testing kits for the virus, but have to send samples off to labs which will have a 48 hour turnaround, Neel estimates.

“For anybody over 80, the death rates are anywhere from 16-20 %, for those age 70-80- about 9%, and age 60-70 about 3-4%, and age 50-60 about 2%, and them it drops down to anywhere from .1-1% for people age 10-40,” Neel said.

“The real take home here is–we have an opportunity right now with schools out–to really stop the spread of the Corona Virus IF people that CAN stay home, DO stay home,” says Dr. Neel. “But that means staying home…don’t go out on a cross country trip because the kids are out of school. We have an opportunity to stop, or at least severely curtail the spread of this right now. The sooner we stop the spread, the sooner we can get back to our normal lives.”

By Kayleen Holder

The Devine News-Editor

The Devine News will provide daily updates, or as often as necessary to keep locals informed on community decisions regarding the Corona Virus in Devine and Medina County.