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UPMC officials give update on virus rates and precautions

“The young and healthy need to be extra vigilant. It (COVID-19) is not a one size fits all,” Donald Yealy, UPMC senior medical director and chair of emergency medicine said in a briefing on Wednesday with Tami Minnier, UPMC chief quality officer.

The two professionals updated locals on the severity of the virus, precautions on the second wave and testing capabilities adapting as we progress into the fall cold and flu season.

“The total cases of COVID-19 among the UPMC system has been on a downward trend for weeks,” Yealy added.

He added that the total of positive cases could increase in younger, healthier people, but that the virus would be in a much lesser severe way than when the virus first broke out.

“Our communities did a great job with common sense prevention techniques,” he said.

“It does not mean we are letting our guard down,” Minnier added.

Both Minnier and Yealy strongly encourage younger people to remain strong, protected and vigilant by continuing to wear masks, practicing stellar hand hygiene and remaining socially distanced, especially if they will be around the more vulnerable elderly

population.

“Our key focus remains on taking care of the most vulnerable population,” Minnier said. “We must continue to explore other ways to keep them safe.”

UPMC has started using drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone as well as convalescent plasma to help patients remain off ventilators during this uncertain time without a vaccination.

“The vaccine is still a big ‘if’,’ “ Minnier said.

There is no timeline on when a vaccine will be approved and able to use, though Yealy did suggest that vaccines would be more useful on younger and healthier populations than the vulnerable elderly, especially now that the virus has been weakened and immunity is much stronger.

With that, Yealy also said that one in 400 asymptomatic people are likely to get the virus and among symptomatic people only three percent are having positive results at this time.

UPMC is still remaining to test any and all people preprocedure and those within the nursing and long-term care facilities.

Yealy added that they have only seen one patient thus far and that the patient was quarantined, isolated and treated and no outbreak was reported with increased social distancing, proper personal protective equipment usage and screenings.

In terms of a second outbreak, both Yealy and Minnier expect an increase in testing in the fall, but states that UPMC is already preparing for the worst, and will act on the reality of the situation when the time comes.

“We will manage and be able to provide guidance,” Yealy said. “I am confident we will be able to meet the demands.”

“The anxiety will continue to be at a constant level and will effect what we do in the fall,” Minnier said. “We are ready and prepared and will be here for you for whatever you need.”

She also said that UPMC has been utilizing their 3D printing machine to also make swabbing material for tests as well as ventilator parts.

“We intend to do everything in our power to continue to provide care for our communities,” Minner said. “We need you to continue to do your part (social distance, wash hands, masking). We all have a responsibility.”

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