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Infectious Diseases Expert: Pandemic Isn’t Over, Making 3 Ws More Important Than Ever

| Date Posted: 6/24/2020


PINEHURST, N.C -- As Moore County continues its gradual reopening, there have been plenty of questions about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for the Sandhills during the next few months.


According to Gretchen Arnoczy, M.D., a FirstHealth infectious diseases specialist, the answer is simple. COVID-19 is here, and it will continue to impact our communities. Dr. Arnoczy joined Star 102.5 FM on Wednesday to discuss the current status of the pandemic and how Sandhills residents can keep themselves safe.



Below you’ll find some answers to key questions about the spread of COVID-19 and how FirstHealth is responding.


What is the state of the pandemic in Moore County?

Dr. Arnoczy: We are seeing many COVID-19 cases in Moore County. To date, we have 394 confirmed cases, and we’ve had 13 deaths. We are also definitely seeing community spread, and we have had outbreaks at nursing facilities.

We have learned a lot over the last few months. We have learned about how this virus spreads and how to take care of people with COVID-19. We’re not done. We are in the throes of this pandemic. We are not at the tail end of it, unfortunately.


Are we in the second wave of the pandemic?

I think the message with the reopening was a little confusing because a lot of people thought, ‘Oh, good. We’re done. The pandemic is over.’ But it’s not. We have learned a lot, and we are able to test more and test faster. We have the capacity in our health system to take care of people. But the reopening was not that everything is over, and everything is safe.


What steps can I take to stay safe?

We know how we can safely do things. A lot of people didn’t get that message, because the ways we reopen safely include doing the recommended things you have heard from the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s the 3 Ws: Wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart and wash your hands frequently. The pandemic is not over, and even though we can do more now than we were able to before, we must do it in a safe way.


Now that summer is here, can I go to the beach? What about the pool?

I’m all in on summer activities, and there is a way to do them safely. We know that, generally, there is a lower risk of COVID-19 outside than inside, in part because of the way sunlight works. In general, being outside is safer than being inside, and being masked is better than being unmasked.



One of the big problems we have with this disease is what’s called asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread, and that’s when a person doesn’t have symptoms -- either because they’re not going to have symptoms or because they don’t have them yet -- but can still spread the disease.

The masks are not necessarily about you protecting your mouth and nose from the germs, it’s because if you have this disease and you don’t know it, then that mask will catch droplets that are contagious and infecting other people. You can safely enjoy your summer, but remember the 3 Ws, avoid big gatherings and keep safety precautions in mind.


For more information about FirstHealth’s response to COVID-19, including ways you can help and even make your own mask at home, visit our website.

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