PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — This week, Federal Emergency Management Agency is opening another mass vaccination site at the old Macy’s at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk. Even with the vaccinations picking up, there are concerns that the reopening of the country is moving too fast.
If you look at videos from Virginia Beach or spring break anywhere, Dr. Edward Oldfield from Eastern Virginia Medical School says it’s clear young people are not wearing masks or social distancing.
“Now I think we’re loosening up too quickly and we’re starting to see cases come up,” Oldfield said.
Oldfield, an infectious disease specialist at EVMS, says case numbers in the commonwealth now are not much better than the peak back in August. This, despite Gov. Ralph Northam’s more moderate approach to loosening restrictions.
“I think we have been more responsible than Texas and I keep watching daily to see if Texas is going to have a surge,” he said.
It’s individuals’ behaviors that worry Oldfield.
“The other piece of news that is not good is these variants,” Oldfield said.
The UK strain is spreading quickly. It’s 50% more infectious and carries a 50-60% higher risk of dying, Oldfield said. “On the other side of the coin is the good news about vaccination because the more people vaccinated the less spread there is going to be.”
All of the vaccines protect against the variants and the increase in COVID-19 cases is mostly in younger people, who often have no symptoms or a milder illness.
“That is true, that it’s not as bad as if this happened last year. Essentially all the nursing home people have been vaccinated, people over 65 have,” Oldfield told WAVY.
He says the mask mandate remains to protect those who haven’t had the opportunity to get vaccinated yet and for the growing number of mostly middle-aged people suffering from “long COVID” — symptoms include coughing and brain fog that can last for months.
There is an exception to the mask rule when you’re gathering with all vaccinated people.
You can hear more about that and vaccine passports that could be your way back into large social gatherings in our full Coronavirus Digital Discussion below.