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Geisinger president talks spiking cases, precautions

“We have seen across the country that cases are skyrocketing,” Dr. Jaewon Ryu, Geisigner president and CEO, said during a press briefing Friday. “It is still way too early to think that we are out of the woods.”

Ryu spoke about the updated spike in COVID-19 positive cases in the local area, clinical trials for vaccines and reminding locals to follow precautions.

“The virus is pretty stubborn and is still with us,” Ryu said.

Vaccines are still in the clinical trials, though some are now reaching the third phase of those trials, he said.

There are well over 100 different vaccines in trials.

In the last few weeks, the country and the state has seen an uptick in positive case numbers.

Ryu said that Geisinger’s health system has also seen an increase in the average of patients testing positive each day, increasing from 15 to close to 25 every day.

“We will continue to be nimble,” he said.

In the over 70,000 patients tested, Ryu said that 6 percent have been testing positive, and the rate of hospitalization among positive cases has remained steady at about 16.

With the lingering anxiety and fear about a second wave and the opening of schools, restaurants and bars, Ryu strongly urged listeners to continue to follow the precautions advised by the medical community at large: Wash hands, mask up while in public, use hand sanitizer and limit interactions with large groups.

“As we approach the fall months and flu season, we really need to be mindful of those precautions,” he said. “It is not the time to be letting up on our efforts.”

In terms of schools reopening, Ryu added that the Geisinger health system has been “actively involved in those conversations” and giving guidance to local school districts and colleges.

Geisinger has helped advise schools on masking, daily screenings and the numerous efforts schools can put in place to ensure the safety of not only the children but the staff.

“Children can still transmit the virus,” he said. “It is all about setting good examples for our children. You really need to put a mask on.”

Ryu also strongly suggests not going to areas that have higher rates of transmission like restaurants or bars.

“Those are the places that carry the greatest risk,” he said. “We should continue to avoid those areas. The ongoing debate is about masks. It is the most important and impactful things that we can do together. It (masking) severely reduces the risk of transmission.”

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