Ask the WGH medical team

The Times Observer asked the Warren General Hospital medical team to help us get information out to our readers through the COVID-19 FAQ-3. Regularly we will pose our questions, and your questions, to the experts. If you would like the Times Observer to submit a question to the WGH medical team, email editorial@times-observer.com and we will forward those questions.

Q: The COVID restrictions are easing and the number of new cases in the state is way down. Are we in the clear?

A: No! Being in the “GREEN” phase does not mean “GO” … going without precautions, that is. COVID-19 has hit a number of major cities, which have seen their surges & are on the decline for number of new cases. Now, unfortunately, the areas being hit more & more are the rural regions of the U.S. It is phenomenal that Warren County has only had 5 positive cases. From our viewpoint, we are bound to see more as weeks pass and as people travel. So, PLEASE, do not quit using masks in public, doing physical distancing, washing hands, etc.

Q: I hear folks who are not symptomatic, but who have COVID, are not good at spreading it. Is that true?

A: No! Though the answer is not completely clear, it appears that people are most likely to spread the virus early after they become infected and even before they develop symptoms (and some patients with COVID never develop any symptoms.) This period, about 3-5 days after becoming infected, is the time when the virus load in the mouth & nose is the highest. This is the main reason that masks are recommended. Though wearing a mask might help you from becoming infected from another person, the more important reason to wear it is to protect others in case you might be infected but have not developed any symptoms yet. In fact, the Center for Disease Control estimates that up to 40% of transmissions occur before people feel sick.

Q: Rumor has it the virus doesn’t spread effectively outdoors. Can I host/attend backyard picnics and such without masking and distancing?

A: Certainly, the risk of spreading the coronavirus is a lot less outdoors. To become infected with COVID, it is thought that a person has to be invaded with several hundred to several thousand virus particles before the infection can take hold and overcome one’s immune system. With more space & air movement, a cloud of virus particles would be diluted much more quickly. So, is it safer? YES! Is it without risk? NO! Experts still recommend keeping up a 6 foot distance from people outside your family and masking when that is not possible … yes, even outdoors. A number of cases have been studied where outdoor transmission was thought to be the cause.


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