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COVID-19 Q & A with GBMC Infectious Diseases Expert

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Jessica Schoeffield

July 30, 2020
Information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) changes frequently and it can be difficult to make sense of the latest public health news and recommendations. GBMC and WBAL Newsradio teamed up to produce Coronavirus Virtual Town Halls that provide the community with insight from healthcare experts. In the fourth Town Hall episode, Theodore C. Bailey, MD, JD, MA, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at GBMC, addressed several timely topics.

He began by discussing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), saying that consistently wearing a mask will reduce a person’s risk of exposure. The more often people wear their masks in public, the less likely it is they’ll contract the virus. Avoiding situations in which people are crowded together and/or not wearing masks will reduce the risk even more. The United States has not been as successful in stopping the spread of COVID-19 as many European nations, so it may become necessary to recommend wearing goggles or other eye protection in the future. Dr. Bailey went on to mention that a COVID-19 vaccine is in phase 3 of trials, which means there is promising data, but that additional research is needed.

When asked about his thoughts on schools reopening, Dr. Bailey expressed concern because of frequent single-event outbreaks, such as multiple family members testing positive after a gathering. Most children do not seem to be as affected by the virus and do not transmit it as much as adults, but from an infectious disease perspective, children attending school daily increases the risk of exposure significantly.

Dr. Bailey then explained that the virus needs to be present in a person’s airway in order to transmit it. People who don’t show symptoms (asymptomatic) can unknowingly spread COVID-19. However, some people continue to test positive weeks after recovering from COVID-19, despite no longer having the virus in their airways. For that reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended a symptom-based strategy instead of a test-based one for ending isolation. He also stressed the need for people to get a flu vaccine this year. The flu vaccine does not have an impact on coronavirus, but it’s more important than ever to remain healthy and prevent as many infections as possible.

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