Pitt County health leaders say COVID-19 spike is unlikely with proper social distancing


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Pitt County officials say they believe people are doing a good job of following guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, no matter the reopening schedule, the virus isn’t going anywhere until there’s a vaccine.

Dr. John Silvernail, director of the Pitt County Health Department, compared battling coronavirus to a slow burn.

“With the other two coronaviruses they sort of needed to run their course to a certain extent,” said Silvernail.

They say we’re going to have to be patient, and wait it out.

“SARS-1 and MERS, they had to kind of burn themselves out,” said Silvernail. “Hopefully, a good warm summer will help burn [COVID-19] out.”

Some states are extending restrictions, fearing a second wave of the coronavirus.

Pitt County’s health director says he’s unsure if we’ll see another COVID-19 spike as we do with the flu.

“There will be a slow rate of cases that will continue for some time until enough of us are immune that the virus can no longer be adequately transmitted,” said Silvernail.

Cases where infected people don’t show symptoms make it especially hard to measure the true impact of COVID-19.

“The footprint of the disease in our community is larger than we can measure,” said Silvernail. “Some early estimates suggest that may be 5 to 10 times what we can measure.”

The health director says any kind of reopening of businesses and public places has to be a unified approach.

Silvernail also says limiting group sizes and practicing social distancing will be imperative to fighting COVID-19 through the summer.

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