COVID-19 mistakes made, lessons to learn

Yahoo Life Medical Contributor, Dr. Dara Kass, weighs in on the recent spike in coronavirus cases around the country. She highlights mistakes made and lessons to learn based on the slow down of the spread of the infection in NY, NJ and CT.

Video Transcript

DARA KASS: It is almost unbelievable to me after everything we went through in New York City and in New York state and in the Northeast when we didn't know a lot about the virus. We weren't even sure if mask wearing was important. We didn't have enough testing. We didn't know how to track. We didn't know how to isolate.

We lost tens of thousands of Americans in that process. And to watch so many states just ignore that experience is not just unbelievable and a little bit absurd. It's completely unfair to the people that live in that state.

The recent spike in cases in Arizona, Texas, and Florida is related to the fact that the governors of those states did not follow the White House guidelines on opening when they opened up their states as early as May. We knew that we needed to track hospitalizations, testing, and tracking before we started gathering again. And those governors just opened up. And now we're seeing the consequences.

They're not tracking their cases as an indication of what they should open and what they should close. They're not doing a lot of the things that we did in New York to divert our resources away from the hospital for patients that didn't have coronavirus and still take care of them while opening up our beds for the very sick COVID-19 patients we expected to come in.

The COVID-19 virus is not acting differently in Arizona or Texas or Florida. We know what's going to happen there. We know there are cases that are being under treated, under tested. We know that patients are walking around. They're infecting their families. We know the hospitals are at capacity and it's going to get worse.

Governor Abbott, the governor of Texas, after a call to action by numerous physicians and scientists in the state of Texas and an increasing number of cases and hospitalizations in his state, decided to pause his opening, which is good. But it isn't enough. What we're going to continue to see is surge of cases in environments and states that are not practicing the simple public health measures we're asking for-- mask wearing, handwashing, and social distancing.

The weather is good for us right now in our response to coronavirus and COVID-19. The issue is that the virus itself doesn't go away in the hot sun. It doesn't go away in warmer climates. What we know is that the virus itself is transmitted less in open air and when people are further apart.

The Fourth of July is an American celebration. And people are going to want to celebrate. Be smart about how you gather and wear a mask. Stay with people you know.

So there's going to be a lot of information we can't track. It's the reason why when you gather with people you don't know, it makes it harder for us to figure out who infected you. It's why we ask people to be deliberate about who you interact with. What we can say is so far, in the cities that had large-scale protests that had people that have worn masks, we just have not seen those cases surge. And that's a really good thing.

We don't have hard data yet on why spikes are happening in certain states that are encouraging mask wearing but not enforcing mask wearing. What we can say is it's not surprising that if the citizens are not wearing masks, the cases are going up. I think the reason people aren't taking this seriously is that actually a lot of people haven't met anybody that has this virus.

I also think that a lot of people still believe, falsely, that this is only a disease of older people. And if they're young and healthy, it's not going to affect them. We have seen 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds be intubated in the ICU. And we have seen people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s pass away.

So the new cases in younger people can be related to a lot of things. We're increasing the number of tests on people that are marginally symptomatic or symptomatic. And so we're seeing a lot of younger people who get tested because of exposure. And we may be finding them when we just didn't test them before.

And I think that younger people are just out more. They're not wearing masks. They're not socially distancing. They're going to parties.

So we have a 30th birthday party with 35 people. And one person is asymptomatic and a carrier of the virus and hasn't been tested. You're going to see all of those people eventually get the virus. We've seen this happen all over the country.

If the virus comes back in New York, it's the first second wave we'll have seen in the country. It's going to be because of people coming from outside of New York back to New York City. It's going to be from travel. It's going to be from people in hotspot states coming. And it's the reason why our governors in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have asked people to quarantine themselves and isolate for 14 days if they're coming from hotspot states.

The work we did in New York needs to be respected. There's something that we did that was magical. We don't have any special treatment.

And so we're going to watch our own numbers. And we're going to shut things down if we have to. And we're going to track our cases. And we're going to make sure that we have testing available, because we are not interested in going through that again.

More From

  • Here are the best appliances to get that 'fresh home feeling'

    As the director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, Carolyn Forte knows a thing or two about keeping a clean home. Not only does she oversee testing and research for cleaning appliances and products, she also shares tips and tricks in a monthly cleaning advice column called, "Ask the GH Cleaning Lab.” During these unprecedented times, a clean home can really make a difference on the health and well-being of you and your family. From vacuums and robot mops to air purifiers it can be difficult to know which products to choose, but in the video above, the “Queen of Clean” shares her top picks for cleaning appliances that are sure to deliver that fresh-home-feeling for years to come.

  • Rachael Ray and her husband are safe after fire at New York home

    Celebrity chef Rachael Ray and her husband John Cusimano are safe following a fire at their New York home this weekend.

  • Watching the Perseids Meteor Shower 2020: Astronomer says when and where to look

    Jackie Faherty, an Astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, gives Yahoo Life advice for watching the 2020 Perseids meteor shower on August 11th & 12th. First, find a dark open sky. “You want to have a huge swath of the sky that you can look at,” she says. She recommends finding an a field or a beach where there’s very little light pollution. Next she says, be aware of where the moon is. “The moon is like a lightbulb in the sky, and depending on its stage it can outshine the whole sky.” Lucky for us, the moon is in a later stage, so heading out when the sky is dark after sunset is best. Finally, be patient. “You need to be out there, I would say for a minimum of two hours,” Faherty says. “You need at least 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust and then you have to give nature a chance to inspire you.”

  • Neck gaiters are worse than not wearing a mask, study finds

    The U.S. hit another grim milestone on Monday with more than 5 million Americans now infected with the coronavirus. Although there is a push to increase testing and develop a vaccine, experts continue to suggest that if all Americans wore masks, the pandemic could be brought under control “within weeks.” In the spirit of that mission, a new study published in Science Advances is shedding light on which masks are most effective — and which may actually be hurting the effort to curb COVID-19.