(K-LOVE Closer Look) – Whether HIV/AIDS, typhoid, malaria or relapsing fever in the refugee camps of Syria, Dr. David Stevens has decades of medical expertise treating epidemics. He currently serves as the CEO Emeritus of Christian Medical and Dental Association, but his missions work in Africa and the Middle East put him at risk during many of the world’s worst disease outbreaks. COVID-19 is one of the most infectious contagions we have ever faced.

“Coronaviruses come from animals, which is why we have no resistance to them,” explains Dr. Stevens who worries that cases are growing exponentially because healthy people can carry COVID-19 without symptoms. “It’s not just stay-home-so-you-don’t-get-sick, it’s stay home so you don’t get sick and pass it onto others without even realizing it.”

Given that the annual seasonal flu can also be quite deadly, are we overreacting? In short, he says, No. 

“We are likely still a year from a vaccine for COVID-19 so keeping physical distance is the best way to buy time the researchers need to find medicines and treatment.” 

Dr. Stevens also underscored the importance of 20-seconds of handwashing. “There are studies to show that it’s necessary to kill a virus,” adding that, “singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to yourself” is a good measure of time.

We can also diligently disinfect common surfaces like counters, doorknobs and light switches. Dr. Stevens recommends mixing five tablespoons of bleach into a gallon of water to make a solution called hypochlorite which kills viruses on contact. “We used to use this when I was a missionary because it was cheap and readily available.”

As for the end of the epidemic, Dr. Stevens will be watching for numbers of infections and deaths to dramatically reduce before prescribing a collective sigh of relief. In the meantime, he says “the scripture verse that’s gotten me through a lot of epidemics is 2 Timothy 1:6. ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind.’”  He describes a sound mind as taking proper precautions and following government instructions while power and love point us towards serving our elderly or recently unemployed neighbors.

“Philippians 4: 6-7 -- do not be anxious about anything, that includes the coronavirus,” he says, adding, “this is a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate to other people that we don’t have the spirit of fear because Christ lives in us -- and we’re trusting Him.”