COVID-19 Myths: Lake County Health Department Speaks Out

LAKE COUNTY, Ill. – The Lake County Health Department spoke exclusively with the Local Newsreader to discuss myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding the COVID-19 virus. Here’s what we learned:

A transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots.

Is the Surge in Cases in Lake Zurich Really, Truly an Outbreak?

“Yes, it’s an outbreak. Absolutely,” said Hannah Goering, spokesperson for the Lake County Health Department (LCHD), “We are still in a pandemic and seeing cases. If we relax too much, we might see a rapid surge in cases, and it’s likely that we will have to tighten restrictions again.” (See this story for more information about the outbreak in Lake Zurich.)

Do Your Part: A Public Service Announcement

Why Do Masks Matter?

According to the LCHD, one way that the COVID-19 virus can spread is through airborne respiratory droplets. We send out droplets when we talk, sing, laugh, cough or sneeze. You can’t see or feel the droplets. Wearing a mask protects others from your potentially infected droplets, and protects you from theirs. Masks can minimize the risk because the number of droplets that you and others encounter is reduced. Masks offer an extra layer of protection. Social distancing provides an even better layer of protection and both together, along with frequent handwashing, are a winning, three-pronged approach to viral protection.

Do Masks Really Prevent Spread of COVID-19?

According to the CDC, they do. A study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in May of this year noted that mask usage prevented 139 people in Springfield, Mo. from getting the virus after exposure to two hairdressers who tested positive for the virus. Both hairdressers wore masks and their clients also wore masks. None of the 139 clients had symptoms; 67 were tested for the virus. All tested negative. The study, while anecdotal, does provide supporting evidence that masks offer effective measures of protection.

When to Wear Masks Outside

As for confusion regarding wearing masks outside, Goering stated that the guidelines still apply.

“If you are outside and can maintain six feet of distance, you don’t need a mask. You may want to carry one with you, however, because you may not be able to maintain that six feet of distance at all times.”

Early Information about COVID-19 May Not Still Be Accurate

Perhaps a friend has forwarded an article from February or March of this year, perhaps from a prestigious institution, and the recommendations are nothing like what the experts and the media are saying right now. What happened? Who’s right?

“In the beginning, there were had severe shortages of PPE [personal protective equipment], so there were recommendations about masks being limited to health workers. In early April, that changed, and masks were recommended.”

“As we learn more and more each day, we are adapting practices and guidelines accordingly,” said Goering.

It’s important to stay current in your knowledge of recommendations, as they may evolve over time.

Quarantine is 14 Days, No Matter What

If you test positive for the virus, even if you have no symptoms, the LCHD recommends that you quarantine for 14 days. Even if you test again and your test is negative within that 14 days, LCHD recommends remaining in quarantine for the full 14 days.

For example, in Lake Zurich and other suburbs, a number of students were positive with no symptoms. The LCHD has recommended that these students isolate themselves.

“This is another reminder to wear masks and limit the number of gatherings,” Goering said, “We encourage paraents to provide guidance towards less risky socialization options.”

What about Test Inaccuracies?

No diagnostic test is 100% accurate, according to Goering. However, the COVID-19 PCR test is said to be more accurate than the rapid antigen test. See the FDA’s Coronavirus Testing Basics site for a full explanation of testing methods.

Are People with Antibodies Immune to the Virus?

According to Goering, there are more questions than answers regarding COVID-19 antibodies and at what level, if at all, a person may become immune after infection.

“We don’t have enough scientific research right now to know about immunity levels for those with antibodies. This virus is still very new.”

Though research continues, and experts may discover more precisely how COVID-19 immunity works in the future, Goering advises using discretion.

“We urge caution for those with antibodies and ask them to still take precautions with hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing. We don’t want to risk additional infections.”

COMING SOON: DAILY COVID-19 NEW CASE TALLY

By Margo Pelak

Margo Pelak is founder and managing editor of the Local Newsreader, which covers hyper-local news in Hawthorn Woods, Lake Zurich and Mundelein. She resides in Hawthorn Woods with her husband Dennis and two wild beasts named Ladybug and Juney P.

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