According to DataOhio, the number of positively reported cases of COVID-19 in the state has been rising steadily with an increase of 5,361 reported cases between August, 18 and August, 24. In light of this recent upward trend, we spoke with Dr. Donald Dumford, medical director of infection prevention at Cleveland Clinic Akron General, to learn how best to combat and prevent the spread of positive COVID-19 cases as we head into the Fall season.
Although reported cases are rising, Dr. Dumford isn't overly concerned.
“As far as hospital numbers, we're not seeing a big jump in the number of cases right now,” shares Dumford. “Overall the numbers are going up, but we're not feeling an impact as far as influx in the hospital, and on average, COVID cases are still fairly mild.”
“I think what we'll see going forward is that there will probably be an increase in overall cases, the majority being mild, with more impact on the community and schools than hospital services like we did initially in the pandemic.”
What Can This Be Attributed To?
“I think that goes to a couple of things,” says Dumford. “One is that most of us have at least some immunity now, whether it's from prior infection or vaccination, so even if you aren’t preventing the acquisition of illness, you’re at least blunting the severity of it. Also, the strains that we're seeing circulating aren't as aggressive as the initial strains were.”
“A couple of unknowns here is that we are seeing some new strains that are offshoots of the original Omicron that are starting to become more prominent within our overall number of cases, but it's still too early to tell what the impact of those new strains will be,” shares Dumford. “The early data says that it might be slightly more contagious, but not any more severe than the other Omicron strains.”
How Can We Lessen Current And Future Cases?
“I think that the basics are still the best way to take care of yourself and each other,” says Dumford.
Be Mindful of How You Are Feeling
“If you are noticing symptoms, take yourself out of circulation and get checked to see if it is COVID. If it is, make sure you're following CDC protocol for isolation; five days of avoiding contact and then five days after that of being okay to go out into the community, but make sure you're wearing a mask,” Dumford says.
Consider Masking UpAlthough Dumford shares that masking is up to the individual and what risk allowances or tolerances an individual gauges, he himself will be wearing a mask in public as we head into respiratory virus season.
“It's a good idea to wear a mask just to be kind to others,” states Dumford who notes that it isn’t just a prevention tactic for COVID-19. “You can help lessen the spread of other things that we worry about like the flu, regular cold viruses, other coronaviruses, and RSV.”
Consider Getting The New Booster Vaccine
“As the new vaccine becomes available, consider getting the new booster,” says Dumford. “There are some people with health problems now who might want to talk to their doctors about receiving an earlier vaccination. For somebody with a lot of risk factors, it's on a case-by-case basis whether they should re-boost now, or if they should wait for the new booster that will likely be coming out in October.”
Take Care of Your Hygiene
Ultimately, Dumford shares that the simplest thing you can do is take care of yourself by making sure you get enough sleep, and keep up with your hygiene i.e. washing your hands, staying hydrated and getting your nutrients in.
A final consideration: get your flu shot.
“I think it’s important to make sure that people are staying up-to-date on their other vaccinations. As we get into the cold and flu season, it’s a good idea to stay updated on receiving your flu vaccine.”
For more information on symptoms, preventions, and tests, see the Cleveland Clinic’s overview of COVID-19.
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