Dr. Dara Kass, Yahoo Medical Contributor, joins Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi on The First Trade to discuss the latest news and developments in the coronavirus pandemic.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The US has passed another grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19. The country has now surpassed 8 million cases, and globally, the 40-million mark. Joining us now is Dr. Dara Kass, Yahoo Medical Contributor and Columbia University Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine.
Good Monday morning to you, Dr. Kass. You know, it really seems like we're headed in the wrong direction here. All but two states are now seeing an increase in virus cases. What's the most important thing to be looking at right here? Is it the number of hospitalizations? Is it the number of deaths? What are you focusing on?
DARA KASS: So I continue to focus on the positive test rate, because it allows us to understand is there enough testing going on in the community to find not just the clearly symptomatic patients, the ones that are getting hospitalized and at risk of dying, but the ones that are spreading the virus to other members of the community. Remembering that identifying cases is only the first step. Then you have to find them, track them, trace them, and quarantine their contacts. That's how we stop this virus.
BRIAN SOZZI: Dr. Kass, why do you think these stats are being so politicized?
DARA KASS: Honestly, because it's inconvenient to do the hard work. The hard work here is quarantining people that have been exposed to the virus, keeping businesses closed that are at risk of spreading the virus, and supporting those businesses. We're seeing that, you know, bars and restaurants are staying open in hot spots-- in hot spot states, because the governments are not interested in supporting those businesses through this hard time. So it's businesses are actually giving pushback. So I think that the cases are going up, because we're not really seeing a coordinated response that respects this virus, but also keeps our economy and our populations moving forward.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, we've seen Dr. Fauci come out and say the numbers are just too high for this time now as we head into the winter and fall. He's been talking about that second wave it seems like forever. So what can we all be doing individually right now to protect ourselves and others as we move closer into this colder weather?
DARA KASS: So we must take this virus seriously. In fact, we're not anywhere near the second wave, we're clearly in a third wave if we're looking at the true overall case counts in the country, realizing that our baseline has gotten higher and higher. So as we head into this third wave over the country, we're still seeing now 40,000 to 50,000 cases a day. Individually, we can wear a mask, distance ourselves, and take responsibility if we're exposed.
The hardest conversations I have are with people that have been exposed in their communities, thought they were doing the right thing, and are just really tired of the COVID, of the fatigue and are really not interested in quarantining for 14 days if they're not entirely sure they've been exposed. But that's the hard work. That's actually how we're going to get this virus under control. And of course, don't have very large gatherings for Thanksgiving, if you can avoid it.
BRIAN SOZZI: Well, that's what I wanted to ask you, Dr. Kass. How can you have a successful holiday season? You're a family, you want to see family members, how do you do that with success and not spreading anything from the inside of your home-- your house?
DARA KASS: So honestly, you have to pick the family members that are most nuclear to you, the most important to you, and they don't have to be biologically related to you. They just have to be people that you've invested the time and effort to know that if they get the virus you will too. And so I would say pick another family, maybe five or six other people, even friends, and spend the entire holiday season with them. Plan on spending both Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe New Year's with the same people and keep it intimate, no more than 10 people at any one gathering. And then you will stop the spread of this virus.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, the CDC seems a little more bullish on a vaccine coming to the market by the end of this year. What do you think about that timeline?
DARA KASS: I think that that's actually the timeline we've always hoped would be the most optimistic, realizing that the FDA has agreed to wait the two months after the final three-- final phase III trials from the earliest vaccine, which we think is going to be the Pfizer vaccine. And Pfizer has also come out and supported that as well. So we are looking at the early phase III data to come out end of November, earliest December. We can start evaluating is this the first and right vaccine for this virus.
So I'm optimistic. And I think the vaccine data, even the safety trials that have stopped, have shown that the process is working. And it's going to be exciting when one or more vaccines come to fruition. And right now we just have to keep our heads down and do the hard work and so we can get there.