Jul 28, 2020 4:49 PM

Infectious disease expert: coronavirus pandemic far from over

Posted Jul 28, 2020 4:49 PM
Dr. Scott Folk/Photo by Brent Martin
Dr. Scott Folk/Photo by Brent Martin

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

An infectious disease specialist emphasizes COVID-19 is far from over and encourages the public to keep wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping at a safe distance from others.

Dr. Scott Folk of Mosaic Life Care says the country is still seeing too many people becoming infected with the coronavirus. Folk adds we continue to see the death toll mount.

“I think that we could do a little bit better as a country in terms of protecting ourselves and making sure that we social distance and wash our hands and wear a mask at every opportunity,” Folk tells reporters. “I think that’s crucial right now. And I think, like it or not, I think we’re going to be stuck if you will with that pattern until a vaccine comes along.”

Folk doesn’t expect a vaccine until the first quarter of next year at the earliest.

Mosaic will be conducting a mass antibody screening of Buchanan County residents and workers next week. The Buchanan County Commission allocated $250,000 to Mosaic and the Community Alliance to conduct the antibody tests. The money comes from the Congressionally approved CARES Act, passed to ease the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic and support efforts in fighting it.

Mosaic hopes to draw blood from about 2,500 volunteers at the St. Joseph campus. If you are interested in participating, click here for details.

Folk cautions that even those who test positive for the coronavirus cannot be confident they will never get the coronavirus again.

“A positive antibody test means that you have been exposed, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re immune to reinfection,” according to Folk. “You might be for a short period of time, yes, but we don’t know how long that period is. It’s simply a way to know if a person has previously been exposed to COVID.”

The mass testing set for next week will give health officials a better understanding of how much the coronavirus has spread in the community.

Folk says COVID-19 has fallen into a pattern:  40% of those who test positive display no symptoms, 40% display mild symptoms, while 15% experience severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, and 5% require intensive care, including a ventilator.

Folk says both the anti-body testing and the PCR testing, the nasal swab, give health officials more information to work with.

“The antibody test does not tell exactly when a person had COVID. It could have been a month or two months or three months ago,” Folk says. “But the PCR test is more useful as a test in real-time, so to speak, to tell if a person is actively infected now with COVID.”

Buchanan County now reports 1,047 cases of COVID-19, resulting in 10 deaths, since counting began.

St. Joseph health officials say there have been a total of 933 confirmed cases with 114 probable cases since counting began.

Mosaic Life Care has tested 17,324 area residents with 810 testing positive. Mosaic reports six patients in the St. Joseph hospital are being treated for COVID-19. Mosaic is awaiting results from 305 tests as of Tuesday morning.