Coronavirus (COVID-19) Confusion On How The Virus Is Spread
The COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic is rapidly evolving with information changing hourly, including who can spread the virus.
Del City school officials confirmed Thursday a person who tested positive for COVID-19 came into contact with a small group of students and staff. However, the superintendent was told they were not at risk.
“From the conversations we've had with the state health officials, including again, the state epidemiologist, the risk is zero,” Del City Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb said Thursday. “To be contagious, you have to by symptomatic.”
However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the risk is lower, “Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”
When asked about the CDC guidance, Cobb said, “The state epidemiologist told us that it was not a concern.”
News 9 asked the Oklahoma State Health Department to clarify State Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed’s guidance to Mid-Del Schools Thursday.
In a statement, spokeswoman Jamie Dukes said, “"We stand behind Laurence's statement."
“In general, we think if somebody is having symptoms of the virus or the infection, they are more likely to spread it,” said Dr. Douglas Drevets, an infectious disease specialist with OU Health Sciences Center. “But there is clear evidence even if you don’t have signs of infection, that you can spread that too.”
“For that person who is symptomatic, they may be able to spread this pathogen to other people maybe for a period of time before they develop the illness,” Burnsed told News 9 on Friday.
The state’s COVID-19 Hotline advised it is possible a person without symptoms could spread the virus.
“There is some misinformation,” the call operator said. “I know. It is hard to discern what is real and what is not sometimes. Our understanding is that they can.”
It's important to note pre-symptomatic spread is not the main way the virus spreads. Health experts say it spreads much easier once a patient coughs respiratory droplets containing the virus. However, to say there is zero risk is inaccurate according to OU Medicine, the CDC and World Health Organization.