North Carolina coronavirus cases dipped a bit on Monday after a week of steady increases including a record high of more than 2,900 on Friday. State officials say they’re watching the trends closely as we head into the holidays. BPR’s Helen Chickering checks in with NC Health News Editor Rose Hoban the risk that comes with being cooped up during cooler weather and a look at some new health trends emerging from the pandemic.
HC: So not going to dig too much into Corona virus metrics because you did that on The State of Things earlier today, where you and Frank Stacy did a thorough debrief. But I do want to ask you about comments made during Thursday's coronavirus task force briefing, both Governor Cooper and Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said they are concerned about the rise in cases as we head into the holiday season.
RH: Yeah. It's a really big concern. And if you think about it, the places where it's surging, I'm going to go back to Wisconsin, right? You and I have talked about Wisconsin for the past couple of weeks. It's already cold up there. So people are more cooped up in their houses. And as I mentioned on The State of Things, you know, the research is starting to come out, that COVID can remain airborne. We don't know how airborne and for how long, but it can hang out in the air. And it does it better in a dry environment. Like you get when you're running your heater in the winter. So, it's a concern about the fact that we're going to be indoors, which are poorly ventilated spaces and in a drier environment, which can allow the virus to remain more airborne.
HC: Cohen followed up with highlights of holiday guidelines, they'll issue soon, most mask and so forth ones we've heard before, except for this one, think about getting a test before traveling or before gathering for holiday celebrations.
RH: That's new and I don't know if maybe having say, an executive order allowing for a pre-travel screening will make it easier for people perhaps to have their insurance companies reimburse for it, because there's been a lot of talk about folks doing just that. This summer before going traveling or before going to see family and, you know, they didn't have a case. Their insurance company was like, “yeah, well, we're not going to cover it”. T Maybe if you do have an executive order from a governor – then maybe that makes it more possible. And you know, so there's a bunch of ways that people could distance themselves from one another, as they celebrate holidays with relatives. But, it's not going to be easy and it's not going to look like the way it's looked in other years.
HC: That is for certain speaking of different your staff has a couple of good articles looking at how the pandemic has changed our health-related behaviors. I didn't realize there had been such a spike in the sale of contact lenses.
RH: Yeah. We've got folks who are trying to deal with having to get contact lenses because your, your glasses are continually fogged. Cause you got your mask on. We also did a story about the fact that dentists are seeing a lot more cracked teeth because people clenching their teeth. So it's going in a bunch of different ways that we've got folks who are both stressed out and - that jaw clenching story remain salient, right?.
HC: Yeah. So what's on your radar as this election tale unfolds?
RH: We're trying to analyze what the election means for healthcare in North Carolina. We took an initial swipe at it on Wednesday morning and it's interesting. The governor is claiming that his reelection is people saying they want Medicaid expansion, for example, and the legislature is going, Nope. The fact that the legislature didn't change subsequently, that means they don't want Medicaid expansion. It's all about the spin. It's all about the spin.
Rose Hoban is the founder and editor of NC Health News, as well as being the state government reporter. Hoban has been a registered nurse since 1992 but transitioned to journalism after earning degrees in public health policy and journalism. She's reported on science, health policy and research in NC since 2005. Contact: editor at northcarolinahealthnews.org