TROY, N.Y. (WTEN)- Reports of exposure to COVID-19 at local businesses have been posted by counties and are showing up on social media. WTEN spoke with an infectious diseases specialist to try and find out what the risk is for people who may have crossed paths with someone COVID-19 positive.
Samaritan Hospitals, Dr. Arthur Gran, reiterated what government and health officials have been saying. People are more likely to get COVID-19 through close contact with an individual or group of people not using a face mask or social distancing.
“I would be less worried about touching surfaces and catching this than I would be about being in a place where you’re not going to have your mask on and you’re going to potentially be around people who are infected,” said Dr. Gran.
“The virus is mostly transmitted person to person through droplet transmission and breathing in the virus. While there certainly is the possibility and the potential of picking it up off of surfaces the bigger issue is catching it from someone coughing,” he said.
Cases are expected to continue to rise in the next one to two weeks. As a result of people gathering to celebrate over the holidays. WTEN asked Dr. Gran about a person’s immunity after recovering from COVID-19.
Instances of people getting COVID-19 for a second time have been rare but because much about immunity is unknown Dr. Gran said no one can tell how long a person’s natural immunity lasts after recovery. He said it’s the same for the vaccine- it’s unknown how long it will provide protection against the virus.
“It’s kind of an open question as to whether the immunity will wane over the course of a year or over the course of a longer period of time, or whether the immunity will fail to protect against other newer strains.”
Will people have to get the COVID-19 on a seasonal basis as they do with the flu shot? Dr. Gran said that is also a big unknown.
“We are all going to collectively hold our breath to see what happens in the next season of respiratory illness. We expect that a large percentage of people are going to be vaccinated within the next six months, which is a good thing. I think it’s a great thing. We will collectively hold our breath and hope that this provides protection against the next round of seasonal illness,” he said.
Because of the continued community spread of COVID-19, Dr. Gran said the best thing to do to limit exposure from stores or restaurants is to utilize take-out, curbside pick-up, or delivery. Although the risk of catching the virus through surface contact is lower, he still suggests people wash their hands after grocery shopping and after putting groceries away.