Update on COVID-19 Numbers – July 20, 2020
Cynthia Snider, MD, MPH, provides an update on COVID-19 numbers and shares tips for protecting ourselves and others in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.
What do the COVID-19 numbers look like currently?
“So, over the last week, it's been quite concerning in North Carolina. We've had a daily count of over 2000 cases… this is an increasing trend ever since at least a couple of weeks ago, and I guess I worry that as the state has reopened, as people have come together for certain celebrations – be it birthday celebrations, 4th of July, barbecues – we're all placing each other at risk for acquiring coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. And so today marks the time where we in North Carolina are greater than a hundred thousand cases. And as you can imagine, that as more people still don't adhere to wearing a face mask in public, those numbers will continue to increase. I think Governor Cooper was right to hold back any further expansion of reopening until we have a better control of this epidemic in our community.”
Are the numbers getting worse, better or are they staying the same?
“They're definitely not getting better. They are essentially creeping up – not substantially higher, but what we do need is people to really adhere to wearing face masks in public. And that in itself - it's such a very simple intervention - can definitely make an impact for us to succeed in overcoming the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
“We've had increasing hospitalizations, and we will likely start to see more deaths in the coming week, especially if older folks start acquiring the infection. Right now, we know that in the initial few months back in March, it was an older population that was being hospitalized. Now, we're seeing people in their forties and fifties also getting hospitalized. We're still seeing outbreaks in congregate living homes. And so it's still very challenging…
“We're definitely not out of the woods, and I think what's the most important part, is that we really have to embrace wearing face masks in public so that we can make it safer for people to go to work, right? That's the key part. And also, we want to have our rates much lower in our community, so it's safe for our kids to go back to school.”
What can the community do to keep COVID-19 numbers at a manageable level?
“So again, I'm a big fan of the campaign of the three Ws, right? So, often we have to think about ‘wearing’ a mask, and the second W would be ‘waiting’ – waiting at least six feet apart. So if you're going into the supermarket or if you're going to a restaurant, you have to keep an eye out to make sure there's not too many people there and ensuring that you have enough space. And then the third W is to keep vigorous on hand ‘washing.’
“I think in our community, that the key part is often that even though there's been more mandates in different companies to wear masks, we should definitely just start getting used to wearing masks pretty much anywhere, I would say.”
When numbers begin to drop, does that mean we can return to normal? Or do we still need to keep COVID-19 top of mind?
“That is a great question. I don't think we're really going to be out of the woods for quite a few months, if not through the end of winter… Masks, they play such an important part for all respiratory viruses, not just SARS-CoV-2. I think the masks will also help us when flu season comes around. It definitely will help with other respiratory illnesses, and so it's important to think that the reason why we're wearing a mask now is not only to protect yourself, but you're protecting your loved ones, your parents, maybe family members or neighbors that have illnesses that place them at risk for acquiring it and having worse outcomes.
“And so, for right now, I would say the mask is kind of going to be part of our regular day-to-day attire. And until we get access to maybe a vaccine later, maybe in early 2021 and we're out of the respiratory season, that's maybe when we can consider not wearing masks, but I think it's too early to tell when we can abandon it.”