As COVID-19 cases rise, UNC epidemiologist says masks, social distancing go against human nature

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise researchers in the UNC Health system now believe it’s because some precautions go against human nature.

“If you had said that in December a coronavirus would dominate the planet for the last six months it would be almost unbelievable,” said Dr. Myron Cohen, Epidemiologist for UNC Health.

After months of research, flattening the curve, and social distancing Cohen says it can be easy to miss the progress made in treating COVID-19.

“We have a plan, and we’re executing the plan with incredible speed,” said Cohen.

By studying what other countries are doing to stop the spread of coronavirus, Cohen says they’ve been able to narrow down the most common way the virus is spreading.

“Most of the transmission is by intimate contact,” said Cohen. “This can be prevented by appropriately fitting masks.”

While masks aren’t always a popular solution, Cohen says they’re shown to be up to 80% effective at slowing the spread as we wait for a vaccine.

“For a variety of reasons it may take several months or a year,” said Cohen. “Remember that the vaccine will be imperfect. No vaccine is perfect. Even if you’ve been vaccinated it will not reduce the obligation of a new normal.”

That’s why Cohen says regardless of what phase of reopening we’re in the same rules should apply.

“Our reopening rules are decisions we’re making for society, but the virus doesn’t care about that,” said Cohen.

Cohen says one of the most recent developments that could help control the spread of COVID-19 is that contact tracing can now be done with your cellphone.

For more information on cellphone contact tracing click here.

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