COVID-19 risk remains "just as high" as reopening phases continue
As Virginia progresses with reopening plans, more people may be forgetting about the risk of COVID-19 as they adjust to the "new normal" after the virus.
But Dr. Allison Baroco, an infectious disease expert with Augusta Health, said the risk is still just as high.
She suggests those over the age of 60 or with weak immune systems continue to shelter at home as much as possible — that's why the governor's instructions for Phase 2 and Phase 3 call for a "Safer at Home" order.
"Even for people less than 60 [years old], we're learning more about risk factors," Dr. Baroco said. "Anyone who has a suppressed immune system, people that are morbidly obese can tend to bare worse in this."
She said if high-risk or elderly individuals need to be around family or friends, both parties should continue wearing masks to reduce the spread.
"Avoid some high-risk scenarios and perhaps everybody wears a mask when you're visiting and go outside, if possible," Dr. Baroco said.
Dr. Baroco said isolation has been especially hard on some individuals who live by themselves.
"If the balance of safety and mental health is in limbo, then we may see that people with weaker immune systems need to get out to at least see some individuals who are important to them," Dr. Baroco said.
Dr. Baroco said high-risk individuals should not defer medical appointments they have during the pandemic.