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Expert answers questions amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 10:13 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mid-South COVID-19 cases are on the rise again.

As more of our friends and neighbors test positive, many are asking what is the new normal now? What is the proper protocol to follow to keep you, your family and your community safe?

One of the biggest differences now versus the last two years of the pandemic is that many jobs don’t offer COVID-19 sick days anymore. So if you test positive but feel well enough to go to work, should you?

“A positive test is an outstandingly reliable result,” infectious disease expert Dr. Steven Threlkeld told Action News 5, “and if you have COVID, it’s very important to keep that away from other people.”

Dr. Threlkeld said if your at-home test shows you’re positive for Coronavirus, you don’t need to get another test, but you do need to stay home, if possible.

“We’re still in a range of time where we need to be considerate of people and not just pass this thing around when it’s unnecessary to do so,” he explained.

If you must go to work or out in the public, Dr. Threlkeld advises you to mask up.

“The wearer,” he said, “it’s most important if you’re the infected person, a cloth mask can be very effective at keeping you from giving it to the people around you. In terms of protection ourselves, if you’re around people with COVID, you’re probably safest with a KN-95 or even better, an N-95.”

Threlkeld says the Baptist Hospital COVID-19 ward where he works has 19 patients who have the virus right now.

Methodist reported 29 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including one child as of Monday, May 17.

COVID-19, said Threlkeld, is still attacking the most vulnerable: the elderly and immunocompromised. But even if you’re healthy, he said there’s another reason to avoid getting COVID-19.

“The big elephant in the room, I believe, is what is going to be associated with the so-called long COVID? Nobody even knows that yet. We’ve seen very good and large studies show that people have significant increases in strokes, various heart problems and blood clots. We don’t know where that ends. We don’t know what the downstream effects of that will be. There are very real things that we’re only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding. So, it just better not to get the thing,” said Threlkeld.

The Shelby County Health Department reported nearly 82% of residents are now vaccinated. SCHD said that means they’ve had at least one dose of the vaccine.

The FDA approved Pfizer boosters for children ages 5 to 11 this week. It’s now up to the CDC to give the green light.

But Dr. Threlkeld said booster might be a hard sell to a lot of parents. Recent data shows only a third of children in that age group nationwide have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

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