There are several significant events regarding COVID-19 occurring currently that are important for us to all be mindful of. Across the country, the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing at a rate of roughly 15% every two weeks. Unfortunately, this is not occurring in Iowa. Without much doubt this is because we as a society are not wearing masks consistently and trying to avoid larger group gatherings. As long as each infected person infects one or more other people on average, this is going to continue. In fact, it is likely to become an increasing problem as schools and universities try to get restarted (some of whom have done better than others at putting strong precautions in place) and it gets toward fall weather where viruses generally transmit more efficiently.
It is very clear at this point that few young healthy people have major immediate complications of COVID-19. Certainly all these precautions wouldn’t be worth it if everyone were young and healthy. The trouble is that it is very difficult to separate all the young, healthy people from the at-risk population that remains at very high risk of severe illness. All we have to do is look to Franklin County next door to see this, where there are 16 recorded deaths.
As we move forward into the fall there are likely to be more frequent quarantines of exposed individuals within the school and the hospital. These will be quite disruptive to the operation of both and it is far preferable to decrease the number of cases up front than it is to have to try to quarantine people to try to catch up to it (especially when we lose valuable time with tests that often take 48 hours to come back).
Finally, this week the first clearly demonstrated case of re-infection with COVID-19 was reported in a 33 year-old from Hong Kong. This person did not have symptoms the second infection, as the immune system worked how it is supposed to. We don’t yet know whether someone reinfected could spread COVID-19 to someone else, but it is reason for caution. It is possible that people who have had an infection previously and have some immunity themselves still may be able to spread COVID-19 to at-risk individuals.
The more cases we have, the less safe it is for all of our loved ones who are older or otherwise at risk.