Dr. Matt Willis

Marin County Public Health Officer

Recorded: Wednesday, June 10th

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Join Dr. Matt Willis, live Wednesday, June 10th, as he shares his perspective on ways to think about, deal with, and potentially treat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Matt Willis has been the Marin County Public Health Officer since 2013. A Marin native, he completed his MD at Temple University and both medical residency and a Masters in Public Health at Harvard University. He spent time as the US Public Health Service Director of Primary Care on the Navajo Nation and did research at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

As the Public Health Officer in Marin County he led the development of the RxSafe Marin coalition to battle the opioid epidemic. Dr. Willis has recently been in the news not only for leading Marin’s effort against COVID-19, but also for contracting the virus himself. He was diagnosed on March 22, isolated at home, and was back to work by April 20.

I was sure when I got the disease that in a few months, everyone was going to get it. I was certain my story was going to be boring. Just one of many. That hasn’t really happened.”.

––Dr. Matt Willis

Get ready to join Dr. Matt Willis in conversation, Wednesday, June 10th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 9

    votes

    Everybody’s out protesting. Everybody seems to be wearing masks. They’ve removed the infection and death tallies from the TV news. What should I be thinking right now?

  • 8

    votes

    You’ve been very public about the fact that you were impacted early by the virus. How did your personal experience help you to better understand the virus, and the precautions we need to take to battle it?

  • 8

    votes

    As a 73 year old senior how do you see the risk as a number from 1 to10 for breaking out of self isolation and shopping while trying to stay ten feet apart wearing a mask? People seem so self absorbed and not staying ten feet away.

  • 7

    votes

    Could you please discuss the variance of opinions regarding mask wearing? I appreciate that you mention the importance of this in your videos, yet I see many people outside every day who are not wearing masks. San Francisco has mandated mask wearing outside and suggest a distance of 30 feet from others. Dr. Larry Brilliant was just quoted as saying if 80% of us wore masks 80% of the time, the virus would dissipate. I have heard that mentioned by two other physicians lately. I would be willing to wear a mask outside every single day until we have a vaccine. I understand the elation in reopening, but I think people will become much more lax about the issue of wearing masks. They have had great success in Asian countries, as everyone wears masks. It’s very perplexing and frustrating that everyone does not wear a mask outdoors.

  • 7

    votes

    The New York Times published the results of a survey of 511 epidemiologists this week. Please comment. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/08/upshot/when-epidemiologists-will-do-everyday-things-coronavirus.html

  • 7

    votes

    At least in Marin, the demographic with the worst outcome when contracting COVID-19 is the elderly (all deaths to date have been over 65). Given this data, one approach would have been to strongly isolate the elderly who are most vulnerable, and allow the rest of us to go about our lives, with limited precautions. Was this considered as an option, and if so, why was it not adopted?

  • 7

    votes

    Governor Newsom’s first shelter-in-place order was actually directed at those 65 years and older, but he has said very little about this population recently. As there are now phase-in plans for specific workplaces and activities, can seniors also liberalize their activities? If they were employed, is there a recommendation regarding return to their workplaces?

  • 5

    votes

    We think of Marin as it’s own special place, but in relation to the pandemic specifically: how tied is Marin really to nearby places like the East Bay or San Francisco? Does the fact that we’re distanced from those places by bridges mean that there’s just less chance for contagion, or are there other more important factors at play?

  • 3

    votes

    How is Marin county doing today in relation to Covid infections?

  • 3

    votes

    Given the constant obloquy about insufficient testing, what is a statistically significant percentage of the population tested to make it meaningful? What are the testing kit production problems?
    Will the protests over the last three weeks have any effect on herd immunity?

  • 3

    votes

    Do Marin county hospitals have access to therapeutics showing promise for Covid 19 ? Are they involved in any clinical trials?

  • 3

    votes

    I’ve heard both that the infection path is making it’s way west and south, having begun in the Northeast and settling in New York and New Jersey? It that the right way to think of the next wave of infection, as if it’s weather moving around?

  • 2

    votes

    What is the best practice if someone tests postive for COVID 19 but has only mild symptoms? Are there any OTC products that are deemed effective? Which cough suppressants can you recommend or are to be avoided?

  • 2

    votes

    With massive budget cuts and layoffs happening at schools, how do you see your organization helping to ensure the safety of children returning to school? When parents are weighing the risks of sending their children back what parameters do you think they should focus on?

  • 2

    votes

    When will it truly be safe to have elective surgery in a hospital?

  • 2

    votes

    What are the markers for gauging when will it be appropriate for intergenerational interaction socially and in venues such as an adult day program?

  • 2

    votes

    We have a family member in our home getting cancer treatment. I have put off PT appointments for 3 months and recently rescheduled. The PT therapist would like me to come in for body work for a few weeks. The remainder of appts will be via telehealth. They appear to be sanitizing rooms and the therapist (and I ) are masked. How would you assess the risk at this time?

  • 1

    votes

    I am a 74 year old who lives in Washington in the summer and California in the winter. I consider the Buck Institute as helping people everywhere age well and age healthy, not a Marin county institute. I would like the conversation to have a broader focus.

  • 1

    votes

    What are the contact tracing percentages in Marin County?

  • 1

    votes

    Do test results showing antibodies to covid-19 prove that the person is immune from getting or passing on the infection? Friends tested at Kaiser San Rafael claim the doctors told them they are “safe and not contagious”, “No need for masks or distancing”. Please advise.

  • 1

    votes

    reminder: website medicare.gov records the number of beds for Medicare – and Medicaid- certified nursing homes

  • 1

    votes

    reminder that Medicare covers COVID-19 tests and Tele-health

  • 1

    votes

    Will it be safe to workout in gyms with other people or is everyone better off working out on their own at home and/or outside? What about safety in swimming pools?

  • 1

    votes

    The Daily Count of New Reported cases for Marin appears to increase beginning the week of May 17, yet the Daily Hospital and ICU Covid-19 cases do not show such an increase. Why is this? Is this just a factor of the increased testing picking up more cases, but the actual infection level in Marin is remaining relatively constant or maybe even decreasing??

  • 1

    votes

    Any educated guess as to when in-door religious gatherings will be permitted in Marin?

  • 1

    votes

    Would you discuss the pros and cons and appropriateness of masks vs face shields?

  • 1

    votes

    10 are in my book club. Would it be prudent to meet if we wear masks, stay outside and sit 6 feet apart?

  • 1

    votes

    I understand that there can be a fairly large (up to 30%) false negative result from Coronavirus testing. How does this inform the way you make health decisions?

  • 0

    votes

    Big increases in numbers of cases here, but not big increases in hospitalizations. What are the quarantine guidelines for those who test positive? Are they mandatory? What are DPH and providers doing to allow people to stay/recover at home (especially folks who are in multiple-person households?

  • 0

    votes

    How many people who were residents of nursing homes or similar facilities in Marin have died from COVID 19?

  • 0

    votes

    With cases of the coronavirus increasing again in a number of states, Arizona and CA being 2 of them, would it be prudent for individuals 70 and over to not follow the relaxed rules now being put in place, dining in, movie theatres, etc?

  • 0

    votes

    Do you think that we can trust the info about current risk in Mexico? Would you cancel a planned trip to Puerto Vallarta or any other vacation out of our country this winter?

  • 0

    votes

    Given the differences in general health and life expectancy between white/more affluent and people of color/less affluent, what can be done this year to help the latter, in particular?

  • 0

    votes

    WHO has revised general recommendations for masks? Many countries, even those having managed very well so far the pandemic, still do not recommend (or mandate) the usage of masks. What is your take on it? Do you used them?

  • 0

    votes

    Is the county evaluating case incidence overseas as schools open to help determine decisions we make here?