Avera Medical Minute: COVID travel update, new treatments

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 1:58 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A lot has fallen since February. COVID hospitalizations, daily case counts, and the federal mask mandate following a federal judge in Florida’s decision to strike down the rule on Monday.

Is the end in sight? According to Avera Medical Group’s Vice President of Clinical Quality, Dr. David Basel, not exactly.

“It hasn’t gone totally away,” said Dr. Basel. “We still have people getting admitted to the hospital, but [at] much lower levels than we used to have.”

Locally, there has been evidence that the BA.2 variant has become prevalent within South Dakota, but health leaders are not predicting a huge increase in cases related to the new virus strain. Certain areas of the country have seen some increases which Dr. Basel believes has warranted concern from the CDC which would explain the effort to continue mandates on transportation a little longer. Still, Dr. Basel is not predicting a huge increase and has expressed his optimism for mask flexibility.

“When I go to the grocery store, I’m not wearing my mask anymore. I did have a flight after the mask mandate was lifted, and I did wear a mask on the plane because the plane is probably one of the highest risks where you are recirculating everyone’s air during the flight,” Dr. Basel said.

Dr. Basel also says to get your shots if you are in an age group susceptible to contracting the virus. As health leaders keep an eye on COVID trends, he says getting a second booster shot would be appropriate if numbers creep back up again. With COVID circulation still present, Dr. Basel says it is still important to monitor symptoms and test when necessary with options like the at-home tests. Despite the efforts to stymie COVID, the virus is adapting to preventative measures as indicated by the latest strains.

“We actually have fewer drugs that can treat COVID today than we did a few months ago because these newer variants are resistant to the prior medications,” Dr. Basel added. “On the flip side of that, because there are fewer cases overall, we actually have more doses available of the drugs that are still effective.”

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