Two Augusta University doctors are updating the public about the coronavirus


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Health officials are saying the coronavirus has entered a new phase. They say the virus is more widespread in the United States than earlier this year. During Monday’s regular Rotary Club of Augusta meeting, Doctors Phillip Coule, and David Blake both gave presentations on how the virus is impacting our health care system.

“One point seven percent of the CSRA are currently infected,” said Dr. Blake. “If we randomly PCR tested people, about one in every 55 people would be positive.”

Dr. Blake is a professor of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine. He has been tracking the COVID-19 pandemic since it started. His research shows more than 145 Georgians died in the 2017 – 2018 flu season. Since March, COVID-19 claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people, even with guidelines to prevent its spread. He says while reopening is on many peoples’ minds, it’s how we reopen that’s important.

“When you start an activity in a pandemic, you need to know the inherent risk in the event,” said Dr. Blake. “It would be best if you had mitigation and surveillance in outbreaks and knowledge of transmission rates in the community.”

AU Health recently opened a new large specimen testing center and is participating in several trials to find a drug for fighting the virus.

“Five different companies are working on vaccines,” said Dr. Phillip Coule. “We’re still probably six months away from an effective vaccine to have an impact.”

However, Dr. Coule says he is concerned about a summer burnout, which causes more folks to be indoors. That will cause the virus to spread, which he says won’t be suitable for the fall.

“Now that is has gotten hot and humid, people have migrated indoors, which impacts the transmission of the virus,” explained Dr. Coule.

If you’re 85 or older and get infected, there is a one-in-six chance of fatality. If you’re 50 years old, there is less than a one percent risk. Dr. Blake has a powerful reminder for young adults.

“The risk of dying if you’re infected with COVID-19, and you’re middle-aged, is higher than dying in a car accident,” said Dr. Coule.

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