Safer-at-home: Our conversation with “Colorado’s Dr. Fauci”

Governor Jared Polis calls him “Colorado’s Dr. Fauci”. Dr. Jonathan Samet, an epidemiologist and dean of the Colorado School of Public Health, helps create models that show how our behavior affects the spread of COVID-19.

We spoke with Samet and 9Health Expert, Dr. Payal Kohli on Facebook Live about the state’s safer-at-home orders and what the future may look like.

Samet explained that his background is in epidemiology as well as pulmonary medicine. He is working with a team made up of experts from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, “With this pandemic, we needed a model tailored to Colorado that would give us insights into what’s happening here.”

While Samet made sure to point out that no model is correct. Modeling is a way to provide an educated guess as to what the future holds. The group’s model focused first on the initial peak, how big it would be, and how to avoid overwhelming the health care system. Samet explained that we were successful in flatting the curve through social distancing but now we need to work to avoid a second wave of cases.

“Our models show that unless we do some degree of social distancing, at a pretty high level, we could end up with a peak we can’t manage,” Samet said, “Most of us have not become infected but what that means is most of us are still susceptible, so we have to be careful to avoid a second peak,” he added.

Samet explained that we will be social distancing for several months to come, “Into the fall, and perhaps beyond, we really don’t know.”

On April 27th, Colorado’s stay-at-home orders changed to safer-at-home, with slightly relaxed restrictions and allowing some businesses to reopen. Several counties have extended stay-at-home orders however until May 8th. 9NEWS has the list of counties on their website, click here.

9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli shared advice for those that have had to return, “Wear a mask. The more of us that don’t wear a mask when we leaver our homes, the longer this is going to take.”

In addition to wearing a mask she recommends:

  • Sit at least 12 feet apart in common areas – space out as far as you can
  • Be aware of the things you touch in the office – doorknobs, light switches, etc. and wash your hands often
  • Avoid touching your face

“We’ve been really primed with very good information over the past several weeks, so I’m confident that as people return to work, they are going to be following these precautions,” Kohli added.

“Safer-at-home is not returning to normal,” Samet reiterated.

One thing the models include that Colorado doesn’t have yet – more widespread testing. Samet said more testing is needed, both to identify those that have been infected and antibody tests for those who’ve had COVID-19.

“As we move into the long run, we’re going to need to know who’s had the virus, has antibodies to it and is hopefully immune although long term immunity remains to be determined,” Samet said, “We need tests more widely available, there’s still a lot of work to do in that regard,” he added.

The models Samet and his team have made show that if testing increases, we should be able to keep things under control. Colorado is working to expand testing and case identification and contact tracing. Click here to read more about that from Governor Polis.

Click here for more on the work Dr. Samet and his team are doing.