FAQ's On COVID-19 Reveals Latest Information
Information about COVID-19 continues to evolve and last week the Utah State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn held a session responding to frequently asked questions.
COVID-19 continues to illicit ill-conceived notions about the seriousness of the virus on social media sites. For this reason, Governor Gary Herbert and State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn held a press release addressing frequently asked questions about the virus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been compared with the seasonal flu in terms of how it spreads and how dangerous it can be to some patients. Dr. Dunn explains the difference.
“Because COVID-19 is something we just identified in December of 2019, it's going to take the scientific community time to understand exactly how much more deadly it is then flu 'cause it's only been around for a few months. And so, as this pandemic evolves and we get more information, we will be able to more accurately say how deadly COVID-19 is. I think something to anchor to, though is knowing that already in five months of COVID-19 in Utah, we had five times as many deaths due to COVID-19 compared to flu season last year, which is an 8 month season. So, it has already claimed more lives than flu.”
The infectiousness, death toll and access to testing are measurements used by public health officials in evaluating impacts of the virus.
“Sure, so from a public health response perspective, we look at our data to identify which populations are carrying the biggest burden of COVID-19, and what interventions would most help those populations. So we're looking at infectiousness, death toll, but also access to testing to make sure that we have as much prevention measures in place as we can to protect those at highest risk for severe disease due to COVID-19.”
Governor Gary Herbert submitted a question about how deaths due to COVID-19 are determined.
“The other question I get all the time is how do we in fact determine whether somebody dies from COVID-19? There's confusion. I've heard in different areas of, well hospitals are inclined to make the COVID-19 death even if it's marginal 'cause they get paid more money if it's a COVID-19 death. So, how do we in fact determine if somebody died based on COVID-19 infection?”
Dunn’s department is notified of all deaths due to COVID-19 and they work with clinicians and the medical examiner to determine the cause of death. Each case is investigated, and she says she’s confident they are accurately counting those who have succumbed to the disease.
The recovery rate is something which Dunn says is not well understood.
“You know, if you’ve been identified with COVID-19 and you haven’t passed away within three weeks, we’re considering that recovered. And we recognize that that's not true recovery. We know now that individuals even if you haven't been hospitalized, can take, you know, several weeks to a month to actually fully recover and we're learning more and more about the long-term effects of COVID-19. So recovery is one way that we are tracking people who are potentially still infectious and still out there in the community with COVID-19, recognizing that there are a lot of limitations to that number."
Dunn responds to a host of questions about COVID-19 case numbers, transmission rates, infectious data, mask wearing and other virus-related issues. You can hear the complete audio recording on KPCW.org.