Don’t let your guard down: What can we expect this winter from COVID-19? Two local health experts weigh in

Coronavirus

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Now that the weather is starting to actually feel like fall and winter months, many people are wondering what does this mean for COVID-19 numbers?

Currently, case numbers are trending in the right direction. The Vidant Health system, as of Thursday, had 62 COVID-19 patients, 35 fewer than two weeks ago.

“We’re seeing some good changes, the question is will be how much longer can we expect that and that’s the million dollar question, we don’t have that figured out,” said Vidant Health Medical Director of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology, Dr. T. Ryan Gallaher.

Nearly every case in the county and hospital system is the delta variant. Dr. John Silvernail, the Pitt County health director, said that’s a good thing.

“If we stay with just the delta variant right now, if no other variant appears, I think we should fare well from the COVID standpoint because there is a lot of immunity in the community both from natural disease and vaccination at this point,” Silvernail said.

Gallaher said one thing could alter that.

“The variable being what is influenza season going to be like,” Gallaher said. “I think most of us think that, maybe its wishful thinking that its going to be similar to last year. We have the Ws, wearing masks, washing hands and watching distance are very effective against influenza.

“We are already so stressed as a system with COVID, it doesn’t take us much to tip us over the edge and I think that is the fear.”

Gallaher said now is not the time to let the guard down.

“Historically, whenever we’ve seen COVID numbers go down, we’ve seen people relax too quickly,” Gallaher said. “I would implore everyone not to relax too quickly, to stay vigilant so we don’t see another bump.”

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