What happens after COVID-19 peaks in Virginia?

Posted at 11:42 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 12:28:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Seven days a week, Dr. Gonzalo Bearman and his team at VCU Medical Center work to treat COVID-19 patients.

"We're still seeing cases, we're still getting admissions," Dr. Bearman said.

The Virginia Department of Health reports over 4,000 positive cases in the stateand nearly 700 people are in the hospital as of Thursday.

Many people are wondering when Virginia will see its peak in cases, when the number of cases reach its maximum before beginning to decline.

The latest model from the University of Washingtonshowed the peak hitting the Commonwealth around April 20.

Dr. Bearman said hitting a peak, whenever that might be, does not mean things get back to normal.

"After we hit what we presume to be the peak, things are not going to go back to normal right away," Dr. Bearman said. "It's going to take weeks, even months to get back to normal."

A major factor after the peak hits will be whether the cases are decreasing, according to Dr. Bearman.

"So decreasing trends of infection for several weeks, so that we are convinced that the down slope or the down tick in cases is real and sustained, that's really important," Dr. Bearman added.

Dr. Bearman believes everyone will need to be tested in and he said it may take awhile before businesses and restaurants can fully reopen.

"Because it would again put people who are symptomatic or asymptomatic in presence with others who could potentially get infected and that could result in a rebound in the infections rather promptly," Dr. Bearman said.

He also believes a vaccine would help things safely return to normal.

"That may be a factor that needs to be heavily, heavily considered before we go to completely back to normal is the availability of a vaccine," Dr. Bearman said. "So that people are not re-infected quickly."

He believes it could take another six to 12 weeks after the peak until Virginia gets back to normal meanwhile.

Governor Northam is expected to reveal a new peak model Friday that is specific to Virginia.

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COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.