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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

San Diego County Says Hair Salons, Barbershops, Can Reopen, Church Services To Resume

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County health officials announced Tuesday the region's houses of worship, hair salons and barbershops could reopen.

Speaker 1: 00:00 After months of being shut in. We're seeing San Diego open up again, first parks and beaches, then retail stores and restaurants. Now we're able to go to church and get a professional haircut, but the world has not returned to normal. As we do more things and go more places, there are more opportunities to be exposed to the covert 19 virus. Staying safe now means more than staying in doors. It means knowing how to navigate in a variety of public situations to help ourselves, our families and our neighbors stay healthy. Joining me is Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialist with Rady children's hospital and UC San Diego. Dr. Sawyer, welcome back to the program. Good to join you, Maureen. Now, first of all, do you have any concerns about the way San Diego is reopening?

Speaker 2: 00:50 No, actually I think San Diego has been very careful and deliberate in their process or using the guidelines that have been put forth from the state and from the CDC and I think San Diego is in good shape right now where you have a fairly steady rate of infection. It's still there. I don't want people to think that it's gone away, but I think this is an appropriate time to start gradually opening things. Africa,

Speaker 1: 01:18 you know, after a couple of months with no gathering, some people are ready to party like old times as an infectious disease specialist. What goes through your head when you see gatherings like that on a beach or in a bar where people are just not obeying the safety measures?

Speaker 2: 01:35 Yeah, well that's a disaster waiting to happen. As soon as people let down their guard, this virus is going to come back and we haven't done anything to change the contagious nature of this virus. People have gotten comfortable isolating at home and I, and it's time to rethink, uh, the precautions you take when you start to venture out into the world. And if you get too relaxed, we're going to have a rebound of cases

Speaker 1: 02:00 now with more venues opening up. Some health officials say the risk posed by silent spreaders is greater. Tell us about that.

Speaker 2: 02:09 Well, we have learned over the last month that it is possible to shed this virus without any symptoms. Most people eventually do develop symptoms, but at the time they're, they're contagious. They may not have symptoms at first, so you can get close to somebody at the beach or in a restaurant and acquire the infection from them even though they don't know that they're infected. So that is the reason that social distancing is still being recommended. The reason masks are being recommended out in public when you're within six feet of other people, it's to prevent that from happening.

Speaker 1: 02:45 Let's talk about doing things safely. In this new environment where things are opening up. For instance, when dining in restaurants, what should you be cautious about?

Speaker 2: 02:56 Well, it's the same thing we've been talking about Maureen over the few months. The key to preventing transmission is to not have closed, prolonged contact with other people. Certainly not without wearing a mask and to practice good hand washing when you're in an environment where you may have pick up the infection from touching surfaces. So you want to disinfect your hands in the restaurant. You want to not get close to other patterns in the restaurant. Uh, and uh, in, when you leave, you want to disinfect your hands again.

Speaker 1: 03:30 Now of course you have to take your mask off to eat in a restaurant, but when should you wear wine and should you go in with one?

Speaker 2: 03:37 Yes, I think you should wear one into the restaurant until you get seated at your table. I am sure the restaurants are going to space the tables apart, the appropriate distance. So once you're stationary at your table, then you can take your mask off because other people won't come within six feet of you.

Speaker 1: 03:55 Just one more question about restaurants. You know, when you're out in a restaurant and people tend to be gregarious, tend to maybe laugh and talk loud. Is that a riskier than just a quiet conversation?

Speaker 2: 04:10 Yes. Uh, you know, anything you do to sort of increase the respiratory, uh, exhalation, which we do when we laugh and we call up and we sneeze and, and we succinct loudly, all of those things probably do increase the risk for transmission, which is why those settings are concerning settings like a restaurant or a bar are concerning because we tend to raise our voice, we laugh, we have a great time. So ideally you would have a mask on whenever possible in that situation. But of course to eat you're going to have to take it off.

Speaker 1: 04:47 Now retail stores have been allowed in store customers with safety modifications. If social distancing is maintained, does it make any difference how large or small the store is?

Speaker 2: 05:00 No, it's all about this magical six foot distance from other people. So a big store can accommodate a lot more people and keep them six feet apart. The trick is not to let down your guard and just start clustering closer together in line, for example, where we tend to snuggle up to the person in front of us so we don't lose our place in line. So that's where people have to be careful.

Speaker 1: 05:22 Now if everyone is wearing masks, why is social distancing still important?

Speaker 2: 05:27 Well, the masks are only a partial solution to, to the spread of the COBIT virus. The primary goal for wearing a mask is to prevent you from infecting somebody else. But uh, you know, you can still get infected with a mask on. So this is an attempt to cut down the transmission. If you do both things, wear a mask and keep six feet apart, then your chances of getting infected are very low.

Speaker 1: 05:55 Church services have apparently been the source of outbreaks around the country and now they are opening up again here in San Diego. What are the things churchgoers have to stop doing to stay safe?

Speaker 2: 06:09 Well, there's a tendency at church to reach people with handshakes or even hugs and that's gotta stop temporarily while we get through this period of, of contagiousness. So the, the same ingredients apply in a church service as they do in a store or a restaurant. You want to keep your distance and you want to keep a mask on when you are forced to be close to other people

Speaker 1: 06:32 and finally getting your hair cut or stock held. Any special precautions that you would recommend?

Speaker 2: 06:38 Well, there are particularly the mask is important because you obviously you're the person cutting your hair cannot stay six feet away from you. So you want both them and you to wear a mask and and then when you get finished in that environment, as with any other, you want to disinfect your hands either with hand washing or hand sanitizer.

Speaker 1: 06:59 Do you advise people 65 and older to limit their outdoor activity even though businesses have been reopened?

Speaker 2: 07:08 Yes. We still know that the highest risk individuals are those 65 and older and the older you get, the higher your risk goes up. So people in that age group need to be particularly thoughtful about going out into public. Even though things are opening up, they need to think, do they really need to go to a dining restaurant or can they continue to get takeout from the restaurant? Do they really need to to go to a store in person to pick something up when they might be able to order it online easier. So unfortunately for people in the older age groups, the home isolation is still the best solution.

Speaker 1: 07:47 What in your opinion, doctor is the riskiest exposure among the reopened activities in San Diego?

Speaker 2: 07:54 Yeah, that's a great question. I mean any, any situation where you're going to be potentially forced close together with other people is risky. I have all the things that I've sort of seen videos of. I think restaurants and bars in particular are maybe the biggest challenge because we were going there to be social. When we want to be social, we tend to get close to other people and talk loudly and, and have a good time. But that's exactly the kind of situation that's going to lead to transmission.

Speaker 1: 08:25 What about the reopened casinos?

Speaker 2: 08:28 Uh, same, although, you know, I think if they can Institute some social distancing in casinos, uh, you know, then it's going to be a safe as anything else. But the challenge is people have to keep their mind on the social distancing. And, and when you're distracted, having a great time doing something else, you may forget. So people have to really concentrate when they're out in public and particularly people 65 and above to keep in mind that they want to stay away from other people as much as they can and they will want to wear a mask and hopefully have the people around them wearing a mask.

Speaker 1: 09:05 Now today, Rady children's hospital is launching the [inaudible] collaborative for children. It's a testing initiative that will screen up to 2000 children, their families and pediatricians daily. What kind of impact are you hoping this new testing initiative will have?

Speaker 2: 09:22 Well, I think this is a great advance, uh, for Rady hospital and for our community. Uh, the more testing we can do, the better off we're going to be. Uh, the whole strategy we're shifting towards is testing people. And when we find somebody who's positive, we test everybody around them and isolate people who are known to be infected. And that's how we're gonna sustain our control over this infection for the longterm. So this will be great and this will be important for school. We're getting back to schools as well.

Speaker 1: 09:56 I've been speaking with Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialist with Rady children's hospital and UC San Diego. Dr. Sawyer, as always, thank you so much.

Speaker 2: 10:05 It's been great to join you, Maureen.

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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.