Health Advice



COVID-19 expert answers questions on restrictions and more

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Stay-at-home orders, how the virus that causes COVID-19 behaves, and specific surfaces the virus lives on make up some of the many questions that Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and director of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group recently answered.

Read on for the Q&A:

When will social distancing and stay at home restrictions end?

"I try to explain to people that there is a lag period. What we're seeing now reflects the disease transmission that occurred two to four weeks ago. Because we are still in the midst of this, the reality of it is we have to wait until that curve begins to bend down and then wait another two to four weeks before we can say, 'Probably all clear.'"

Is there concern about relaxing restrictions too soon?

"I think every scientist and physician who has talked about this has said the same thing. Now is not the time to talk about relaxing restrictions. We have not yet reached the peak of what this pandemic can and will do in the U.S. We need to stay the course here. We need to work together. We need to be logical. And then we need to watch, wait, be informed by the best data that we can get."


How important is it to keep people home?

"That's part of bending this curve, or flattening the curve is another term used. The idea is simple but profound. You simply cannot get infected with this virus if you don't breathe it in or you don't introduce it to your body with your fingers. You run the lowest risk of either of those happening by being distant from people, not being in public areas, working from home, whatever it takes to prevent person-to-person transmission, and consistent hand-washing."

Are there more confirmed cases because of more testing or because the infection is spreading?

"I think both are happening at the same time. Certainly, in places like New York City, we are seeing an explosion in cases. In places like South Korea, that started about the same time we did. They clamped down with restrictions very early in the course of their disease and their outbreak, and we've seen that curve bend down. So both are happening. The thing that concerns us is the peak of the pyramid ? the ones who are severely ill, who require a lot of medical support and care. New York City hospitals are really desperate for supplies and ventilators. This is a serious issue."


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