Houston epidemiologists are analyzing COVID-19 risks as mask mandates are lifted
Houston epidemiologists are analyzing COVID-19 risks as mask mandates are lifted

Houston epidemiologists are analyzing COVID-19 risks as mask mandates are lifted

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – The Texas Department of State Health Services reports COVID-19 cases across the state are at one of their lowest points during the entire pandemic.

While Texas does not see an increase in cases or deaths, there is an increase in the percentage of tests that return positive.

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, an epidemiologist at the UT Health School of Public Health, authored an article in the New York Times asking whether COVID is more dangerous than driving a car.

Jetelina says coronavirus remains new enough and its long-term effects are unpredictable, with measuring the threat from an infection being a major problem.

“We’re doing a really terrible job of communicating risk. I think that’s also why people shake hands and say, ‘Turn it around.’ They are desperate for some kind of guidance,” Jetelina said in the article. .

She says that mask mandates are being lifted and that some free test sites are closed.

According to Jetelina, parts of the United States that are still trying to quell the pandemic have largely turned their focus away from community-wide counseling. She adds that even as case numbers begin to rise again and more infections become unreported, due to home tests, she says the responsibility has fallen on Americans to decide how much risk they and their neighbors face.

“Part of our human psychology is that we are very, very bad at calculating risks,” says Dr. Catherine Troisi, Jetelina’s colleague at UT Health.
“It does not say anything with a situation like COVID where there are some things we do not know where it varies so much from person to person depending on their age, their immune status and where they live.”

Troisi says it is difficult for us to calculate the risk ourselves, even though we know the risks and benefits.

“We know driving is a dangerous activity, especially here in Houston. But it’s worth it because we do not want to go everywhere, and walking has its own risks,” says Troisi. “Flying has its own set of risks, both with COVID and otherwise, and but you decide it’s worth it because you want to see the family or you want to go on holiday. I think we always have to weigh whether we are willing to take a particular risk. “

Jetelina says the threats to COVID for many have been dramatically alleviated during the two years of the pandemic, and vaccines have helped reduce the risk of being hospitalized or dying.

Triosi agrees with Jetelina’s article that the risk of COVID is not just about the numbers.

“We do not really know what the case number is because a lot of people test at home,” Triosi says. “And test sites are closing because COVID funding has not been re-authorized by Congress, people who do not have insurance would have to pay for their own PCR test. So just looking at the number of cases does not give us a good idea of ​​what happens. in society longer. “

According to the CDC, COVID remains a significant health threat, “Because it replicates in your body and makes more of itself every time it makes another little baby omicron virus. There’s a chance a new variant emerges. There is no guarantee that in the future, a more serious disease, and then we are in big trouble. ”

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