CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The Saturday sunshine and warm temperatures had many itching to get back to normal. But Cleveland area infectious disease specialists say the threat of COVID-19 is not over. That’s why they’re warning the public that being too quick to disregard safety protocols could do more harm than good.
Doctor Amy Edwards is a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist with University Hospitals. She said we’re not out of the woods just yet.
“Outside is safe, socially distanced is safe. But when you’re out and about you see all of these people who are out: not wearing masks, not even bothering to stay separate from other people, meeting friends, hugging, shaking hands? It’s like somehow they all of a sudden thought we got through the third wave and the sun is out – we’re done. COVID is over,” she said. “COVID is absolutely not over.”
According to Edwards breaking COVID protocols now could send the numbers skyrocketing again.
“We’ve seen the numbers have been going down, down, down, and that down has kind of reached a plateau. So, if we’re not careful we’re just going to go right back up,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what the vaccination numbers are in the State of Ohio, but I know in the United States as a whole only about 10% of the country has gotten both doses of either the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine. That’s nowhere near enough to get herd immunity. Even if you add it together with the estimated 15% to 20% who have been infected with COVID.”
While we all want things to get back to normal after a year of basically quarantining from the threat of COVID-19, there are variants doctors say that are much more contagious than the original virus.
“A lot of us are worried if we let our guard down, before we hit say 60 to 70% immune that we could be dealing with a fourth wave while we’re trying to vaccinate people,” said Edwards.
Edwards encourages the public to just hold on a little bit longer, about six to eight more weeks. Barring any major problems, more people than ever will have access to the vaccine.
“By the end of March, early April, anybody who wants a vaccine is going to be able to get one,” she said.
The FDA approved the Johnson and Johnson vaccine Saturday, and that will result in another 20 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine available to anyone who wants it.