The numbers of patients with COVID-19 continue to drop at hospitals in Monroe County.
Both St. Luke's Monroe Campus and Lehigh Valley Hospital Pocono are almost back to normalcy.
But doctors aren’t letting their guard down this summer.
Experts dealing with the new virus aren’t sure what to expect going forward. But what they do know is what works to prevent it from rapidly spreading. They’re hoping you heed this warning:
Infectious Diseases Program Director Susheer Gandotra, M.D. at Lehigh Valley Hospital Pocono says, "The virus has not just disappeared. We cannot ignore it. If stop doing the same things, social distancing, putting masks on, washing hands more frequently and avoiding unnecessary travel, then it’s very possible that we could have a second wave."
Both Lehigh Valley Hospital Pocono in East Stroudsburg and St. Luke’s Monroe Campus in Bartonsville report less than five percent of their patients being COVID-19 related today. That’s a significant drop compared to their peak number of cases at over 70 percent.
President Don Seiple of St. Luke's Monroe Campus says, "As I monitor our emergency room, patients coming in who are being tested, very very small number are testing positive and we have many days where we don’t have any positive tests."
And both hospitals are seeing patients come back in just the two weeks where they were able to reopen elective procedures and appointments.
Gandotra says, "The surgical volume has come back to almost 90 percent of the pre-pandemic times. And majority of our outpatient visits are also face-to-face, not video visits. That’s an reflection that the community and the patients that need to come into the hospital offices are showing confidence."
But as Monroe County is set to relinquish it’s stay-at-home order this Friday and more places will open up in the yellow phase, experts believe the month of June will be telling for what’s next with the new virus.
Seiple says, "It’s really difficult for experts and those close to this to get where we’re going, you know there’s just so many unknowns with this virus."
It’s also going to be interesting to see if people who let down their guard this past holiday weekend at cookouts will result in a spike.
Seiple says, "With this virus there’s been a roughly two week period window from the time you’re exposed to when you can be showing symptoms."
We’re told wearing a surgical mask works in preventing the spread if everyone in the community participates. That measure along with all of the other protocol is what got our cases under control, and what needs to continue to prevent a significant outbreak.
Gandotra says, "The cotton mask which you wear is supposed to avoid oral transmission of our secretion going into the air and affecting other people. If everyone wears it then they protect each other."
As far as whether or not the sun’s heat will kill the virus, we’re told that has yet to be seen. But there has been spikes in warmer climates like Brazil.