TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Cities across the country are lifting curfews as protests are largely peaceful, but leaders urge protestors to get tested for COVID-19 as a result of the vast number of people attending these demonstrations.
The past two weekends, hundreds of people have gathered protesting for justice for George Floyd. Many are wearing masks, but there are concerns across the country how the vast numbers of people will affect the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Vigo County health commissioner Dr. Darren Brucken says their interactions with protestors have been nothing but positive, and he has some tips to do so in a safe manner.
Dr. Brucken says they have helped protestors Get masks to wear for their demonstrations. He says the health department's message to all protestors is this: Continue to protest in a safe and peaceful manner at all times, however, recognize the importance of wearing masks and maintaining a sense of social distance as often as possible.
Leaders across the country urge protestors to “act as if you have the virus,” and to “get tested”. Brucken says if you want to get tested, you can go to Optum lab site by the North Armory close to Terre Haute North high school. On “Clark’s Compelling Catwalk” podcast with Terre Haute Pastor Clark Cowden on Monday morning, Dr. Brucken urged everyone to still be cautious moving forward.
“The simplest answer is: those of us that are involved and enrolled in a daily science of this is to watch the population numbers—to watch the activity," Brucken explained, "We are not at a point that we can be relaxed about social distancing.”
Now all this has continued talks of a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases coming this fall. Dr. Brucken spoke at length on Monday morning about his perspective concerning this possibility on the podcast as well.
He says the second wave of COVID-19 is going to come during the fall and winter months, but health professionals are preparing to control the spike in cases to ease the burden on hospitals. The problem lies with the upcoming flu season during the fall and winter.
Dr. Brucken says flu symptoms overlap so consistently with COVID-19 symptoms that hospitals may be overcrowded. Between the flu, COVID-19, respiratory influenza, and COPD patients, Dr. Brucken says they all could be competing for ventilators.
Again, he says there's no need to panic. Hospitals are already preparing for this. Even though the second wave will most likely come, Dr. Brucken says he's glad things are beginning to open up. He says Vigo County and other cities across the nation can do so in a safe manner.
As far as the Coronavirus goes, Dr. Brucken said on the podcast that the measures in place will likely stay in effect until a vaccine is available.
"When a vaccine becomes available--and that's why a lot of science has shifted towards vaccine, vaccine, vaccine because we have to have that to get herd immunity," Dr. Brucken explained, "So I think this is the new norm, to be honest with you, for the rest of this year, this winter, into next spring, and hopefully next spring a vaccine becomes available and is proven to be efficacious and safe."
Dr. Brucken says it's great that six to 10% of the population is immune at this point, but we have to get to 60, 70, or 80% to achieve herd immunity. That's why a vaccine is key.