PITTSBURGH – One of UPMC’s top medical doctors says communities will soon be able to safely begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr. Don Yealy, the Chair of Emergency Services for UPMC, says the current lockdown has caused mental and economic concerns even as it succeeded in “spreading out” physical illness so that medical facilities were not overwhelmed with patients.
The many weeks of restricted activities have also allowed the identification of those “most vulnerable” to infection by COVID-19, Dr. Yealy said in prepared remarks.
This population includes older citizens with chronic health challenges and people of all ages with compromised immune systems, he said.
“Knowing who’s most vulnerable helps us take a more targeted approach to keep people safe,” Dr. Yealy added. Of particular concern among the elderly, he noted, are those in nursing facilities.
In Allegany County, Pa., 87 of the 111 virus fatalities were nursing home residents, according to the doctor. In Pennsylvania the median age of those who succumb to the virus is 84, Dr. Yealy disclosed.
Dr. Yealy said, “for most people in all walks of life” the virus will either produce no symptoms or will resemble the common cold.
Because of the last few months experience the doctor said the mortality rate “among the most vulnerable” can “easily be kept at less than one per cent” with measures now available and especial emphasis on nursing home and immune compromised people.
“We have plans to move quickly should we see increasing numbers of COVID-19 infected or ill patients,” Dr. Yealy assured after saying the hospital group has both the staff and equipment to do so.
The physician said he and the hospital expect COVID-19 cases to continue, but believe the total number of patients at any one time can expect appropriate and effective care.
Viewers can watch the full UPMC media briefing in the embedded video above, or, by clicking here.