COVID-19 Numbers Are Increasing: What You Need to Do
COVID-19 numbers are rising in our community. It's still crucial to wear a mask, wash your hands often and wait six feet apart to keep each other safe. Chief physician executive Bruce Swords, MD, PhD, talks about what we can all do to prevent the spread of coronavirus in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
What do the current COVID-19 numbers look like?
“The numbers aren't good. We are at a record high of hospitalizations at least within the Cone Health facilities, which is concerning. We were encouraged a couple months ago when we saw numbers declining, but we are back to a record high. We have around somewhere in the eighty to eighty-five patient range right now.”
When and who should be wearing a mask, and how it should be worn?
“Masks should be worn period, and we'll talk about when how and where, but it's also important to know that wearing a mask is based on science and that it's very clear that when people wear masks, especially people who are interacting with each other wear mask, the risk of transmission is very, very low and so you should wear a mask when you are with people that you are not normally in contact with.
“So if you're at home, presuming that nobody in your home has recently encountered COVID-19, you should be pretty safe not wearing a mask at home. But if you are outdoors, or going out to the grocery store, or to a home improvement store - any place where you will run into other people, you should wear a mask. If you work with people, you should wear a mask. The mask should - this seems too obvious to a lot of us, but I'll go through it anyway - masks should be worn over the mouth and the nose. There shouldn't be any [wearing it] under the nose or on the chin. The mask is there for a reason and you put it over the nose - simple, but we all see folks who don't use their mask correctly.”
“If you are talking to somebody, wear your mask. If you are outside outdoors exercising and you're not around people, you don't have to wear a mask. But if you are outside with a group of people wear a mask, and for heaven's sakes, if you're talking with folks, wear the mask.”
What are the dangers of not wearing a mask?
“The thinking behind wearing a mask is that if I wear a mask, I'm protecting you. If you wear a mask, you're protecting me. So the real danger is if I don't wear a mask and I have COVID-19, I'll give it to you, and that's just not part of being a good community member. My job is to protect people that I don't know and, respectfully, I'll ask that you wear a mask to protect me. And it's sort of this bi-directional agreement, it's very simple and it's based in science.”
If I’m keeping six feet between myself and others, do I still need to wear a mask?
“I don't want to choose between the two. I want you to and I want myself to wear a mask and stay away from people. That's the best thing to do. So if we can wear a mask, stay six feet away from each other, we'll be in good shape and we will see our numbers decline and they'll decline over the next few weeks.”
“Right now, we're seeing information – again record highs in our hospital – and we can see that the transmission rate is increasing as well and that's very concerning for the future.”
What will happen if people don't wear masks or practice social distancing? Are we already seeing what's happening when people don’t practice these safety measures?
“We are experiencing the effects of when people who are not wearing masks are gathering together and not socially distancing from 2 weeks ago - it takes a little while for the coronavirus to transmit and for people to get sick and then sick enough to end up in the hospital, and that's what we're seeing now.”
What advice do you have for people who are finding themselves indoors more often over the next coming weeks?
“My recommendations are going to sound very similar to what we just talked about, but the risk is that when people are indoors, they're going to be close to each other and air will circulate within a confined area or confined room, increasing the risk of transmission of coronavirus. And again, if we are able to wear a mask, wear it over your mouth, wear it over your nose and stay away from each other, the risk of transmission decreases dramatically… the risk of transmission is very low.”