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Task Force discusses safety for holiday travel

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Nov 4, 2020

pleblanc@breezenewspapers.com

According to Pine Island COVID-19 Task Force member Dr. James Koopman, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday represents a significant risk.

“People from very different places mix in situations where they can transmit, and many different parts of the country are at high numbers, so this could be spreading,” Koopman said regarding the coronavirus.

Speaking at the most recent meeting of the Task Force, Koopman, an epidemiologist, said the unique states everyone’s gone through in this epidemic are worth considering from the initial peak to the summer peak, which he pointed out affected the island and now, he says, we are beginning a fall peak.

“This fall peak,” he continues, “is very unique. We’re getting very high rates of detected infection, the death rates are rising, but we have two things working in favor of reducing the death rates and that is that the medicine has gotten better and the other thing is that people are beginning to do self-quarantining and self-isolation more adequately than they have in the past…and people are beginning to wear face masks.”

But, he said, the rising epidemic is of considerable concern, predicted to raise the death rate to perhaps double within four months. His concern is that if people from varying states and levels of infection begin to come together, there may be new areas of concern gaining infection.

“It seems like Thanksgiving is perfectly designed to do that,” Koopman said.

Task Force member Sue Dahod said it’s important that anyone making a decision about travel, think about the safety risk to themselves and others and keep to small groups as much as possible.

Task Force member Martha Huard emphasized a safe way to celebrate with family may be gathering outdoors, as Florida weather generally permits this. “You can have multiple small gatherings, which are still safer than one large gathering,” Huard said.

She also suggested the community turn to the Pine Island Pandemic Community Action Facebook page for suggestions from the Task Force on where to get tested for COVID-19 before leaving for the holiday, which is a recommendation made by the CDC. Guidelines and updates from the CDC can also be found on the page.

Fellow Task Force member Dr. Daniel Hanley reported to the group that his Abbott representative informed him that testing may not be available until January 2021, delaying the timeframe of testing at his Bokeelia office.