After Italy Also the US: UPMC Doctor Says COVID-19 Isn’t Making People as Sick
Viral loads in people infected now are much lower, won't make you nearly as sick
Fewer people are testing positive for COVID-19 and those who test positive don’t seem to be getting as sick, a UPMC doctor said Thursday.
“All signs that we have available right now show that this virus is less prevalent than it was weeks ago,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, the chair of emergency medicine at UPMC.
Yealy further said, among people who test positive, “the total amount of the virus the patient has is much less than in the earlier stages of the pandemic.”
The proportion of people with COVID-19 getting so sick they need a breathing ventilator has fallen, according to Yealy.
“We see all of this as evidence that COVID-19 cases are less severe than when this first started,” he said.
Yealy said those observations apply to western and central Pennsylvania along with communities in New York and Maryland served by UPMC.
He said UPMC has so far conducted about 30,000 coronavirus tests, with less than 4% showing positive. He further said UPMC has tested about 8,000 patients who had no symptoms, with those patients testing positive at a rate of about 1 in 400.
He said that suggests the widely-feared prospect of getting COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms is unlikely.
“Your risk of getting into a car accident if you go back and fourth across the turnpike in Pennsylvania is greater than your risk of being positive for asymptomatic COVID-19 infection,” he said. “This should give you some reassurance that the risk of catching COVID-19 … from someone who doesn’t even know they have the infection, in our communities, is very small.”
Yealy said he doesn’t know exactly why the prevalence and severity of COVID-19 seems to have fallen. He said it likely reflects an interplay of things including weather, genetic changes in the virus, people watching themselves more closely for symptoms, and better medical decisions and treatment.
UPMC hospitals have discharged about 500 people who had been hospitalized with COVID-19, Yealy said. They are presently treating about 100.
Source: Penn Live