17 January, 2021

Your COVID-19 questions answered: Dr. Ruth Berggren, UT Health San Antonio

separating fact from fear and some of the fiction that is out there it's what we try to do every night with this coronavirus Q&A where we take your questions to some of the experts and we are pleased that most Tuesday nights I think what four or five Tuesday nights in a row we have had dr.

Ruth Bergeron the long school of medicine at UT Health San Antonio we're thrilled that she is back with us dr.

Bergeron you're also a member of the health transition team so I know that you know the the county and the city was hoping maybe some leeway would be coming from the governor's office when he put down his restrictions your reaction to what the governor had to say on Monday yes so I am happy that there's a plan for phased return to business but I think that implementing it right now is too soon for San Antonio and I say that based not just on the opinion of our health transition team you know one of the metrics comes right out of Governor Abbott's recommendations I mean he recommended that Texas should have the capacity to test 30, 000 people a day and if you adjust for the population of bear county you know we should be testing 3, 000 people a day here to be safe to open according to governor Abbott well in actuality Steve we're only testing 1, 600 people a day so we have a long way to go to get to the metric that Governor Abbott himself said we ought to reach and there are other issues as well we need to be able to contact trace and unfortunately we do have the capacity within our health care system to take care of patients we have the ventilators and the beds and so forth but gosh we don't really want to go there and so this is too early for us talk about the big difference that I noticed between what the governor laid out on Monday and what I saw in the city and the county's plan were that there are definite metrics in the health transition plan for when we can move forward and when we need to pull back is that the biggest difference that you see as well yes but also the issue of masking we have very strong recommendation that's aligned with the CDC's recommendation that everybody actually over the age of two should have a mask when they go out in public and the governor's plan does not mandate this there's a lot of discussion recommending masking but there's no plan to enforce it and it really opens the door for people to disregard that recommendation altogether and that's a concern yeah but there are thresholds in the City and County plan that that we can cross moving forward or that we need to pull back with right right and you know one of the first ones I didn't mention yet of the four that relate to moving forward I think perhaps one of the most important things is we're supposed to have had a 14 day sustained period of declining cases that means for 14 day period every day there's a fewer cases than the day before and technically we're at day three for that right now there's a more liberal interpretation if you just disregard one of the bumps we had recently you can go back maybe a few more days than that but we're certainly not at 14 days and we'd like to be there and then what we do get started Steve there are thresholds for retreating and those would include things like if we start to see that the percentage of positive cases of the people that are getting tested the percent that are Kovan positive if that starts rising that's of great concern and that would be one of the indicators that would cause us to move back of course overwhelming the healthcare system running out of PPE that would be another reason to move backwards great all right let's get to some of the viewer questions that we have tonight the first one how will we truly know when it's safe to go out without our mass and try slowly to get back to our lives again right tough question and that's why we we have all these metrics progress indicators and warning indicators right now it's not safe to go out without your mask on we still have community transmission and if we suddenly take off our masks and go outside and interact with each other we're just gonna be back to square one so you know if we can meet these these thresholds that we talked about of the sustain declining cases the capacity for testing the capacity for contact tracing if all of those things are met then it's going to be safer and we can move into what we would call and our trends tima phase 2 where businesses are opening at reduced capacity initially 25 to 30% and then after a 2 to 4 week period if everybody's doing well if we aren't seeing warning indicators and if people are actually doing what they're supposed to be doing in their business places with social distancing and cleaning environmental surfacing if that if that's happening after 2 to 4 weeks then we expand again to an intermediate level and then 2 to 4 weeks later again if all goes well we expand to close to full capacity great next question I tested positive for the coronavirus & M self isolated how do I know when it's safe to come out of isolation should I be retested okay so they're really good guidelines for that and you can find them at cdc.

gov and the guidance would depend on whether you were symptomatic or asymptomatic so let's imagine that you got tested for whatever reason maybe because your close contact if somebody at work and you were found to be Kovac positive but you never had any symptoms how long do you have to stay isolated the answer is 10 days however if you've got your kovat test because you've had symptoms of kovat then you need to go home and isolate you've got to be home for a minimum of 7 days from the time you tested positive plus you have to have had no fever for 72 hours and your your symptoms have to be getting better they don't have to be all gone but your symptoms have to be significantly improved so different standards for coming back to work depending on whether you're symptomatic or asymptomatic with your Kovan 19:00 great next question another person I tested positive for the corona virus so far my husband remains asymptomatic should he be tested before returning to work so he should certainly be quarantined for 14 days if he wants to get to work back to work sooner than that then he should be tested but remember if you're still shedding the virus your husband is exposed to you every day and so he could still become symptomatic so the test for him would really only help if then you are separated and he's no longer exposed to you but the bottom line is someone who is asymptomatic but his is a close-contact of someone with known kovat that person should quarantine for 14 days and that means quarantine away from the sick person before they go back to work all right next question with some restaurants set to reopen is it actually safe to take my family out for dinner this weekend I kind of think this is a judgement call because all restaurants are not created equal so I'm gonna change this one to what should I look for in a restaurant that I'm going out to what sort of safety measures do you think people should be looking for when they walk in the door of a restaurant well we've already said that you know our transition team has looked at these criteria and San Antonio hasn't met those criteria yet so we wouldn't say that it's safe but what you should look for is how well is the restaurant adhering to the guidelines that exist the safety guidelines and one thing is is they're hand sanitizer around when you walked in the door of that restaurant first of all was there a crowd of people was there an effort being made to keep people 6 feet apart from one another as they're entering the restaurant was there a place to wash your hands or sanitize your hands when you sat down how far away were you from the other people was your waiter or your host or your hostess wearing a mask and were the menus disposable that's one of the guidelines for a restaurant Steve is that we should not be passing menus from person to person and ideally the guests should be remaining masked until it's time to eat so while until they're seated certainly they should all the guests should be masked those are some of the basic things you want to be looking for it's a whole new world we're moving into here ok I wanted a question that I had is about some of the things they're seeing in Germany right now they're very concerned about a second wife about a return of some of the cases of kovat there are you following that is that also your concern about what we may see in the United States absolutely you know Germany has been very proactive about being evidence-based there be they're listening to their scientists when they relax the restriction they started to see new cases certain of course that can happen here and you know we talked about how we flattened the curve and we've had just a few meandering Peaks or people talk about maybe we peaked last week if we relaxed all our restrictions and we go back to the way we were before we will have a big surge and all of these so-called peaks that we've seen will be like little foothills so we need to be really careful and we need to know that we're moving into Phase two for good reasons and we need to make sure we understand what the guidelines are for staying safe in phase two absolutely I want to give you the last word like I always do dr.

Bergeron what are you into leave our viewers with tonight and we can do this San Antonio we can do it but it requires working together it requires teamwork and it requires caring about each other and I would recommend that businesses by sector form groups affiliation groups and that they coach each other if one particular enterprise within a sector is struggling than the other businesses should come to that come to the aid help share the hand sanitizer share the best practices work together as a group because it's not about individuals competing for business this is about helping our whole economy get back on its feet so that we can be healthy in all ways economically prosperous and physically healthy as well have to work together we've got to be a team dr.

ruth berger and UT health san antonio always appreciate it thank you thank you Steve we'll be right back.

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