Coronavirus (COVID-19) vs the Flu: Prevention and Understanding the Facts Based on Science

By Dr. John R. Mishock, PT, DPT, DC

Coronaviruses is a large family of viruses that affects people and animals. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain that was first identified in Wuhan China in which it was transmitted from animal to human in December 2019. Since then, it has spread to a global pandemic (prevalent over a whole country or the world). The Flu is caused by the influenza virus which frequents the world every year. Flu and COVID-19 are respiratory viruses that affect the upper and lower respiratory tracts (lungs). Fortunately, greater than 80% of individuals have mild to moderate symptoms.

As of the writing, the total cases of COVID-19 worldwide were 244,533 people with 10,301 deaths (Johns Hopkins U Med, 2020). In the US there were 14,387 cases with 217 deaths (CDC, 2020). These numbers will certainly increase as more tests become available.

To date the amount of Flu cases this year is significantly more than COVID-19 with 36-51 million in the US alone and a staggering number of deaths between 22,000-55,000 (CDC, 2020). However, this number of deaths is not atypical in any given year. Last year there were approximately 61,000 deaths due to the seasonal Flu (CDC, 2019). The Flu seems to affect children and adults while COVID-19 targets older individuals, although all are susceptible. Both the Flu and COVID-19 will affect those with immune impairments and or chronic health conditions (heart disease, lung disorders, cancers, diabetes etc.) more harshly.

The signs and symptoms of the Flu and COVID-19 are similar with fever, cough, and fatigue most commonly. In a study of 55,000 cases of COVID-19, the most common symptoms were fever (88%), dry cough (68%), fatigue (38%), and shortness of breath (19%) (WHO, 2020).

The Flu and COVID-19 are spread through water droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. The only way the FLU or COVID-19 can be transmitted is though the mouth, nose, and or eyes. If the water droplet (with the virus inside) lands in the mouth, nose, or eyes of people nearby the disorder can be transmitted. These small water droplets are too heavy and to be suspended (airborne) in the air and drops to the ground in less than 3-6 feet. This is why social distancing (6 feet) is integral in stopping the spread of both the Flu and COVID-19.

A face mask can help reduce the water droplet from being propelled from the mouth of a sick individual reducing transmission in those who have either virus. Some masks are not of high enough quality to reduce the spread to asymptomatic individuals as a preventative technique. COVID-19 and the Flu are not considered airborne. Some infections are airborne (chickenpox, measles, tuberculous) in which the pathogen is carried on small airborne particulates (dust). In a laboratory setting scientists were able to keep the COVID-19 airborne for up to 3 hours, however, this would be extremely rare in a natural setting. (New England J of Med, 2020)

The second way to transmit Flu or COVID-19 is through a fomite (object or material that can house the virus). Studies show that coronavirus can live on plastic or stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on paper or cardboard for up to 24 hours. (New England J of Med, 2020) If you touch the fomite and then touch your mouth, eyes, or nose you can transmit the Flu or COVID-19 to yourself. Keep in mind that we touch our face approximately 16-20 times per hour. Hand shaking can spread either Flu or COVID-19 via fomite or direct water droplet. This is why frequent hand washing or hand sanitizing (at least 60% alcohol) and not touching your face is critical.

FLU and COVID-19 are transmitted best when the individual has symptoms. In rare cases, COVID-19 and Flu can be transmitted in the early stages of the disease in asymptomatic patients when the virus is mounting in the individual’s upper respiratory tract (first 24 hours prior to symptoms). (New England J of Med, 2020)
There is no curative treatment for COVID-19 or the Flu. There are anti-viral medicines that can help the body fight the Flu. There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There is a vaccine for the Flu, however, it is 40-60% effective in reducing the risk. (CDC, 2020)

Flu and Coronavirus prevention: wash hands regularly (minimum of 20 seconds), don’t touch the face, social distancing with people coughing and sneezing (6 feet), stay home when feeling unwell, avoid crowds.

Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates is an essential healthcare business and ALL 6 of OUR CLINICS ARE OPEN during the Coronavirus outbreak. Many of our patients are recovering from post-surgical repairs of ligaments, muscles or joints that require aggressive rehabilitation to optimally recover. Some of our patients have acute pain from severe injury. Still others have limited function that is preventing them from resuming a normal healthy quality of life. Therefore, we will stay open to “serve” those in need.


1. If a patient has symptoms of fever, cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath, they MUST stay home. If they have no symptoms but are immune compromised they should stay home. All other patients are encouraged to make their visits.

2. When the patient enters the clinic they are asked questions regarding potential virus Symptoms. Initially a questionnaire will be filled out by the patient and kept in their chart. At every subsequent visit, the staff will ask the patient the questions. If they have symptoms they will be sent home. If the symptoms worsen they are to consult with their medical doctor.

3. Upon entering the clinic, every patient must wash hands or use hand sanitizer before treatment begins.

4. We are limiting the volume of patients per hour to maintain social distancing.

5. Our staff washes their hands or uses hand sanitizer before, during and after every patient. This is simply a continuation of our standard procedure.

6. Every item that a patient touches will be cleaned/sanitized before and after use: i.e., (pens, chairs, tables, and equipment, etc.) Waiting room area (door knobs, bathroom, chairs…) will be sanitized multiple times throughout the day.

7. ALL personal computers/personal work stations will be cleaned and sanitized regularly.

8. All staff and patients are directed to Cough/sneeze into their elbow, and will wash or sanitize their hands following.

We can help!
If you are recovering from post-surgical repairs that require aggressive rehabilitation to optimally recover, have pain, or limited function that is limiting your ability to resume a normal healthy life.

CALL 610-327-2600 with any questions or concerns, to speak with us directly, or schedule your appointment.  We are happy to offer a FREE Phone Consultation.

Check out our Website, for specific clinic hours, to request an appointment, or ask a general question.

6 locations: Pottstown, Skippack, Barto, Gilbertsville, Phoenixville, and Limerick, (inside the Spring Valley YMCA, use the side entrance, during the Y closure).

Appointments available 7:00am to 8:00pmALL locations, most days!

Dr. Mishock is one of only a few clinicians with doctorate level degrees in both physical therapy and chiropractic in the state of Pennsylvania.

New patient scheduling: 610-327-2600