Concerned about people not maintaining social distance and many not wearing masks, particularly during recent protests, and businesses reopening, Dr. Jacob Eapen, a Medical Director at the Alameda Health System(AHS) and a member of the Board of Directors at the Washington Hospital in Fremont, California, says the number of COVID-19 cases will rise again.
“I am not against any rally, but wear masks… the number will further go up and won’t be stopping,” said Eapen, who sounded concerned while talking with indica. “Yes, they might have to pay… the consequences of the rally.”
“Not everyone was wearing the mask given the numbers and if you see the results from Memorial Day weekend,” he said, referring to rallies. “The result is not yet but by next week we might see the numbers coming.”
Several states are experiencing surges in new coronavirus infections as reopening measures continue, but some public officials attribute the rise in cases to increased testing. California, Texas, and Florida recorded record highs in the past week. Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina are among states reporting increasing daily numbers over the last week, according to published reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control – the state has seen 147,938 cases and 4994 deaths due to coronavirus pandemic. However, the number could be higher according to officers. The numbers of both infected and deaths are rising each day.
Talking about the coronavirus cases in California’s Alameda County, Eapen said the numbers are high compared to Santa Clara, but there have been fewer deaths. Alameda County has seen 4,216 cases since the pandemic began, more than 1,000 ahead of Santa Clara County in the second position. The Mercury News reported there are 2,939 new cases per day over seven days in June. And in the last 10 days, Alameda County has seen an average of 90 cases every day.
Eapen said still there are small cities with a high ratio of possibility cases per population, and there are low number o test centers. He said Alameda County Public Health cannot give the number of tests being done per thousand population done in all cities.
When asked the reason why the numbers could not be given, he said the public health doesn’t seem to have the datas.
Adding further, “It’s true the CDC has given permission, but I don’t think they are sending the data on a regular manner to the public health department.”
Still, some cities, like Fremont’s neighbor Newark, are lacking testing sites, and Eapen said a mobile clinic next week may be started by public health.
The county has centralized testing that’s being done in two hospitals – San Leandro Hospital and Oakland’s Highland Hospital, a public hospital in AHS.
Patients just need a doctor’s order and no questions asked compared to earlier when only people with high-risk conditions and frontline workers were tested.
Recalling how fast the coronavirus and COVID-19 spread, and hundreds of people of Indian origin died as well, he said the country and the world were not prepared and people were exposed.
Since the California shutdown announced March 18, healthcare professionals have been working to follow whatever the governor has been asking them to do to combat the spread of the virus.
Earlier testing was done at the AHS clinics but discontinued the tests because the clinics were running out of kits.
“So we stopped the testing, but when we were doing testing we were picking up positive cases,” he said.
Eapen, who is a pediatrician, also believes most seniors who’ve tested positive have gotten the virus from the nursing homes.
When asked how about children, he said, “The thing is nobody was testing them in January. Even today the rate of testing for COVID-19 remains low in children. In the beginning, lots of kids used to come with flu symptoms but since there was no test for COVID, it was believed they had flu.”
Children’s mortality is very minimal because their immune systems are good.
When asked now that people want to go out again since businesses and other places are open, he said, “Yes, there is a risk more to seniors and cancer patients. The children can infect them from outside.”
And he suggested the only remedy to stay safe at present is wearing masks and maintaining social distance and being smart.
Antibody testing is important, he said. At Stanford Hospital and Santa Clara, 80 percent tested were positive for antibodies with most not even knowing they had contracted the coronavirus.
“It’s been found that 10 to 15 percent are super spreaders, and there is no way to know who these people are and how to isolate the super spreaders,” he said.
A vaccine has yet to be developed for distribution. Three top organizations working on potential vaccines are Moderna Therapeutics, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); the University of Oxford, funded AstraZeneca (British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company). and China-based Beijing Institute of Biological Products, which is a unit of the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm).
Gilead Sciences’ medicine Remdesivir has been found to reduce mortality but not significantly.
“It’s not a miracle drug. We have used it on selective cases,” said Eapen.
When asked about Hydroxychloroquine used by the hospital, he said, they did in the beginning but after a lot of studies and reports about its effects, they have stopped.
An antibody test developed by Stanford Hospital was approved by FDA within a week., but he said the country is waiting for a standard policy that hasn’t come so far. Developing a test alone is not the end of the story, he said. It has to be approved by the FDA,
Eapen said although there are concerns with Alameda County’s businesses reopening Sunday, and the numbers of cases going up, if the county remained closed people would go to another county for haircuts or other businesses.
Another concern is the opening of religious services, where up to 100 people, or less than 25 percent the building’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be allowed. Though a few Hindu temples are still deciding, which Eapen feels is right, given the latest COVID report coming back in cities in China like Beijing which indicates caution should prevail.