Doctor: COVID-19 Focus Needs To Shift Away From Number Of Cases

UPMC's Chief of Emergency Medicine says it's more important to consider hospitalizations and deaths

Joe DeStio
June 24, 2020 - 1:27 pm

    PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - The Chief of Emergency Medicine at UPMC says it’s time for a "change in mindset" in evaluating how a community is faring against COVID-19.

    Dr. Donald Yealy told reporters in a status update Wednesday that it's less important to look at total infections and more important to consider hospitalizations and deaths.

    Allegheny County Wednesday reported 45 new coronavirus infections, equaling the 45 new cases reported Monday. Those are the highest daily case numbers over the past two months.

    "UPMC's total cases with COVID-19, that is people who have the virus and required hospital care, have been on a downward trend for weeks, even with the opening up of our economy and gatherings for social justice around the regions that we serve," according to Yealy. He says the number of COVID hospitalizations is now half the peak number.

    An increase in the number of positive infections was to be expected, he says.

    "For the vast majority of people testing positive, their illness is mild or they don't even know that they have any symptoms of COVID-19 infection," according to Yealy.

    He adds that the younger, healthier people getting infected may help build collective immunity. And that even people who are most vulnerable to the disease are better protected now.

    UPMC's Chief Quality Officer Tammy Minnier told reporters it's still important for people to wear masks, maintain social distancing, and wash hands frequently. She says UPMC supports safety recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.


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