‘California night curfew good, more steps needed to stop Covid’

RITU JHA

The night curfew in 41 of California’s 58 counties is a good step but more needs to be done to stop the spread of Covid-19, infectious disease specialist Dr William Schaffner told indica News.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has clamped curfew from 10pm to 5am in 41 counties from November 21 to December 21 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

They are taking in all steps but I think larger steps would be necessary,” Schaffner, professor of Preventive Medicine in the Department of Health Policy as well as Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, told indica News.

What they are trying to do is to reduce the exposure and the likelihood is that the people who are out during that period of time [at night], particularly in bars, they are not going to be wearing masks. They will not be maintaining social distancing. And so, what they are trying to do is just reduce the virus in those environments where people come together groups and are careless rather than careful,” Schaffner said.

According to https://covid19.ca.gov, California has seen 1,059,267 cases and over 18466 deaths, and over 21,552,528 tests completed.

Schaffner, however, believes the sudden surge is due to testing being ramped up.

They test you when go to the hospital and doctors know these are the people with Covid-19,” he added.

He said that there was no doubt that the virus is what is killing people.

The medical fraternity, he said, was now more aware of the complicated path a Covid-19 infection can take.

We are smarter now than we were in March, so how Covid can make you sick is better recognized. We now know some people don’t have fever. We used to think everybody with Covid had a fever but that is not the case. We used to think in the beginning that Covid affects just the chest,” Schaffner said.

However, we now know that some people can have pain in abdominal area and diarrhea and have Covid. We did not know early on that Covid could take over your sense of taste and smell and we know that now. That enables the doctors to make better diagnostics.”

Now, he said, doctors are learning that young adults are also getting sick.

We are seeing more young adults in the 20, 30s in the hospital than we did earlier. I think it’s because young adults are out there not wearing masks and not adhering to social distancing,” he said.

Can UV lights help kill the virus, especially in businesses and restaurants?

I don’t think it is going to be a big help because most of the Covid transmission comes from people sitting close to each other. When you are in a restaurant you are going to sit closer to others across the table and that’s where the big problem is,” Schaffner said.

However, he said, putting UV light could bring in customers and they might feel more comfortable, he said.

Schaffner said new from the vaccines front “looks very promising and I think we could have vaccine starting to be used by the end of December.”

How quickly will the FDA review data from the pharmaceutical companies and how quickly would it allow manufacturing?

Schaffner said that the FDA has set up an external committee and will look at these data carefully.

If the external committee looks at the data and approves I will be confident in that decision, and we have to remember we are in the middle of the pandemic that is why the vaccine will be released with less information because thousands of people are dying every day,” he said.

If the external committee is satisfied then the FDA would soon okay the vaccines, he said.

He said the “distribution would be based on the population and it will be very fair”.

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