Local Health Authority stresses the importance of social distancing, wearing masks as COVID-19 cases increase

News Connection

Since Memorial Day weekend, the Concho Valley has received more than 70 positive cases of COVID-19

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The Local Health Authority says the significant increase in cases of COVID-19 in the area is the beginning of a second wave of the virus.

“This is the start of a second wave. We don’t know if it’s gonna be the big bump or just a little hump until we get to the big bump,” said Dr. James Vretis.

Since Memorial Day weekend, the Concho Valley has received more than 70 positive cases of COVID-19. The Local Health Authority, Dr. James Vretis, said the spike in cases is due to loosened restrictions and people not following social distancing recommendations, and that we’re only going to see more cases from here on out.

“We’re just seeing the start of this bump now. Across the state and country we’ll see a huge bump in two weeks after the protests, rallies and everything else,” explained Dr. Vretis.

He said almost all of the new cases in Tom Green County involve people who are showing symptoms.

“Almost all the people that are testing positive now are symptomatic. They’re having loss of smell, loss of taste, cough symptoms. They’re not these asymptomatic people we’ve had in the past,” said Dr. Vretis.

Dr. Vretis also said we need herd immunity to fight this virus. When we reach herd immunity, a big portion of the population will become immune to COVID-19, making its spread from person to person unlikely. However, achieving that could take years. There are two paths to herd immunity from COVID-19: vaccines and infection. While infection would lead to herd immunity quicker than finding a vaccine for the virus, Dr. Vretis said it’s not the best idea.

“We do need herd immunity. The ideal way to get that would be though a vaccine, but that’s a few years away. What we want to do is flatten the bump and not have a big spike. We can’t afford to lose healthcare workers, fire personnel, law enforcement personnel. If we get too big of a bump too fast, we can’t function as a society,” explained Dr. Vretis.

In the meantime, people will have to follow guidelines to keep the virus from spreading.

“Social distance, stay 6 feet apart from people, wear a mask in public, wash your hands, don’t hang out in large groups. Even if it’s family members, if they don’t live with you, you need to distance. You may be family members, but if you’re from 5 different households it’s gonna spread. You can’t afford to do this with your family. I’d like to see a change in behavior as opposed to a change in restrictions. We’re West Texans and need to behave that way. I’d like to see people do social distancing and stay in small groups so we don’t get pushed in a position to where we have to go back,” said Dr. Vretis.

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