CDC Director In-Depth on Coronavirus Concerns on WBEN

"Greatest public health crisis in a century"

Tom Puckett
April 07, 2020 - 4:00 am
Dr. Robert Redfield

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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The man who heads the public health agency leading the battle against the deadly spread of COVID-19 is on record as calling the novel coronavirus outbreak the "greatest public health crisis in a century.".

Dr. Robert Redfield is the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and spoke in a wide-ranging interview with WBEN about the coronavirus and what can be done to address concerns like a cluster at long term care facilites.

In Western New York, Catholic Health says rapid testing led to 66 cases among residents, patients and employees. "The fact there was a rapid identification, you can see the effects of the spread within the facility by the time you've recognized you've had an outbreak," says Redfield. "This is something we're going to continune to try and strengthen and figure out a way to keep coronavirus out of long term facilities," noting this is similar to what's happening around the country.

Redfield says one of the complexities of rapid testing is the test for the actual presence of the virus. "It does give you complete vision of what's going on in the facility. You're able to separate those who have the coronavirus from those who don't, same with the staff," says Redfield. He says vigilance must be maintained. He says another test coming in is one that will measure whether someone is immune, or already had the coronavirus.

Some patients are receiving the anti-malaria drug for treatment. "I don't think we have any controlled clinical trial to show its benefit or lack thereof," says Redfield. "We do know it's an approved drug for other indications, and we do know its safety profile. We do know there's some data in the lab that has activiyy against the virus, but dhat we don't know is whether it has any effectiveness. We are working on other multiple therapeutics and hopefully we'll see more therapeutics for this virus developed this spring and summer."

Redfield also went into detail about why the CDC is now recommending face coverings when going out.

"Originally the CDC always recommended if you were sick, stay home and wear a mask, we didn't recommend them as protection for the general public. What has changed is we now recognize a significant number of people who have it don't display symptoms. Those who develop symptoms are infectious for several days before they develop symptoms. We ask usage of face coverings when they can't keep social distancing was not to protect them, but if they may be infected, they don't infect others," says Redfield. 

He adds speaking within six feet could spread coronavirus as well as sneezing and coughing. 

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