With COVID-19 daily cases and hospitalizations passing what they were in the spring, experts are concerned. The same worries about not having enough hospital beds, equipment, and staff to take care of all the sick people are back, especially with Thanksgiving being a couple of weeks away. Several factors are contributing to the rise.
Many people are experiencing pandemic fatigue. They’re tired of having to deal with the restrictions it has placed on their lives. This has led to an increase in the number of gatherings that are happening without the proper social distancing and mask wearing, in many cases. We’re seeing the results of these changes now. If these types of gatherings continue and people decide to stick with, or as close as possible to, their traditional holiday plans, the effects could be devastating, many experts are warning. In addition to limiting get-togethers, experts suggest that increased surveillance is needed since the rate of transmission is particularly high among those who are asymptomatic.
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms that asymptomatic transmission is a primary driving force of the pandemic. The study looked at 1,848 adults between 18 and 31 who were entering the U.S. Marine Corps Citadel military college in Charleston, S.C. All of the recruits had been required to quarantine at home before arriving and underwent a second 14-day quarantine on-campus before starting training. Also, all of the individuals were tested within the first two days of arrival, on day seven and day 14. By the last day of the quarantine, 51 of the recruits tested positive for the coronavirus. What was surprising was that all of the cases came from the prescheduled tests. None were detected by additional tests given to those who reported symptoms. Of the 51 who tested positive, only five ended up reporting any symptoms.
While experts are encouraging better, real-time data collection, they’re also expressing caution over where the public is getting their information from. There are many free resources, including real-time case trackers and interactive tools, that are popping up to help the public better understand the risk level in their area. The reason experts are urging people to be careful when using these tools is because they can create a false sense of security, especially if you just rely on one source.
According to public health experts, the best way to mitigate your risk is to practice social distancing and wear a mask. A recent bulletin posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “the benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and personal protection for the mask wearer.” This means that not only does it protect against spreading the virus to others if you have it, but it also protects you from catching it. The agency hopes that encouraging people to wear masks to protect themselves and others will prevent the country from going through another widescale lockdown.