COVID-19 orange zone a balancing act between public health and economic health


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Dr. Mathew Devine, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine, discussed the Orange Zone balancing act between public health and economic fallout Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“With COVID-19 cases being reported at the highest levels since the start of the pandemic these restrictions laid out by the governor are still in effect,” said Dr. Devine of the colored zone restrictions. “These are put in place for one reason and that is to attempt to slow the progression of the spread of COVID-19. Our community leaders will continue to work with New York State leadership to help with that aim while also trying to balance the impact on local business and students affected by these changes. As the cases continue to increase their will be ongoing efforts to work at decreasing the number of people that are infected with COVID.”

A rise in COVID cases is impacting local hospitals. “The hospital systems have learned a lot along the way,” Dr. Devine said. “In the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of people that had non-COVID related medical problems had lapses in their care. From mid-May until now we have been trying to get caught up on those lost to care or those with worsening conditions while still being able to provide care to those who have COVID. The hospital bed capacity is reaching a rate that is double the amount of beds used for those with severe COVID in Monroe County during the prior hospital peak at the end of May. As these numbers increase hospitals may need to alter their non-emergent surgical procedures to help make sure that the appropriate number of hospital beds are available. If these hospitalizations continue to increase these will also force further changes to be made to prioritize those with COVID.”

Dr. Devine said patient care in the outpatient setting has changed since the spring.

“Offices are still open and are very busy providing in-person care using social distancing and PPE. Practices are also able to continue to provide telemedicine using video or the phone to provide care. This can be done with most care but there are certain types of care that need to be done in-person.”

Dr. Devine said a surge in COVID cases was always expected, even after a drop in cases during the summer months.

“We have always been concerned with a second and even potential third surge since the start of the pandemic. As the cases are still going up, the question is when will the cases stabilize and start to go down again? The answer to this question really is dependent on and each and every member of the community doing their best to limit contact with others and to continue to use ongoing precautions to help decrease the chance of transmission of the disease. One very important recent step has been to increase testing of those who are asymptomatic for COVID. Since these individuals are not aware that they have COVID, doing testing to find even one or two individuals can greatly help to decrease the spread to others. It’s easy to think that we are not the ones who need to change our behaviors, but what is really important – but hard – is that we all work together to make these ongoing sacrifices so that we can get back to safely being able to see each other again.”

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