UPMC doctor shares new concerns around the Coronavirus

Local News

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Corornavirus cases continue to rise across the country with many cities seeing surges of the virus after residents and visitors did not follow safety guidelines.

Pennsylvania alone reported more than a thousand new cases on Friday, and in Central PA, the demand for testing has increased.

UPMC Clinical Quality Officer Dr. David Burwell said the focus needs to be on the small steps: wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if you’re sick. According to recent data, Burwell said people are not doing that, and until they do, the number of cases will continue to increase as will the amount of time the virus is around.

At UPMC facilities, the positivity rate for the virus is about 4% and 0.2% for asymptomatic patients.
Burwell said in Central PA, there is not wait time or backlog to get tested, but results are taking longer.

“Because of the larger request in demand throughout Western Pennsylvania, there has been at times an increase in turnaround times, whereas it was previously pretty consistently 3 days, it did ramp up to 5 days,” he said.

If you’re showing any symptoms of the virus, Burwell said it’s essential that you self isolate until you receive your results.

“If you test and then you go out into the community and you do not quarantine and self-monitor, you could be spreading the virus during that time period that you’re waiting for your test result to come back,” he said.

Doctors said the uptick in positive cases, like in Allegheny County, are in people under the age of 30, although most cases are not severe.

“The biology of it appears that it is maybe even more contagious at this time, but yet is not causing as severe of illness,” Burwell said.

So what can you do to stay healthy?

Follow state and CDC guidelines, and avoid risky behavior and activities that have led to surges in other regions.

“If we learn from those types and not do the activities that were performed in that area, then we can continue to mitigate and do well in our community,”Burwell said.

Dr. Burwell also wanted to remind folks about properly wearing your mask. If it’s not covering your mouth and your nose, it’s not doing yourself or anyone around any good. If you are showing symptoms and think it could be the virus, call your doctor, get tested, and stay at home.

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