Local Health Expert Says Despite Re-Openings, “Very Little Has Changed” With Coronavirus

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – From crowds of protesters, to crowds on flights, to seeing people file into their local beauty salon, or shoppers shoulder-to-shoulder: “I do cringe when I see those videos,” says Dr. Lyndie Forthofer, who chairs the Department of Public Health Sciences at UNC Charlotte. She adds, “Those are the situations that allow transmissions to occur.”

Forthofer says, “The message that is hard for many people to hear, but is probably the most important one to hear, is that very little has changed.” By that, she means that just because businesses are re-opening doesn’t mean the novel coronavirus has disappeared. We flattened the curve, which means we slowed the rate of infection, because what we were doing, she says, was helping. Forthofer says, “In fact, I would argue that people should maybe be more careful than they have been.”

We can’t speed up a vaccine or a coronavirus treatment. We can’t control that. But we can control what we do. And Forthofer says that is simple: wash your hands, disinfect surfaces you touch, and wear a cloth mask in public.

Forthofer will keep an eye on case counts, especially around May 22. That will mark two weeks from the first day of re-opening in North Carolina, and she predicts we will see an increase. “It’s scary. It’s frustrating. But it’s entirely within our power, and it’s not hard,” she says.

Dr. Forthofer says she urges people to buy or make cloth masks with layers, and to leave the blue and white surgical masks or N95 masks for health care professionals.