By Robin Clutters

DENVER (CBS4)– With coronavirus cases spiking in Colorado once again, many people have questions about the virus. That’s why every Monday on CBSN Denver, we talk to CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida.

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Last week, Gov. Jared Polis issued an order that makes masks mandatory statewide. Dr. Dave says it’s a wise move as we see more COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“I think everybody is getting nervous because this is a rapidly spiraling situation,” says Dr. Dave. “I think everyone in the healthcare community is very nervous about what is going to happen in the times ahead, particularly by the time we hit September. That’s a time when there’s a potential for a crisis when it comes to hospital beds.”

So how did we get to this point?

“It really is a matter of people have not been socially distancing, they’ve not been wearing masks, they’ve been gathering in larger groups, we’ve got tourists coming into our state, so there is some personal responsibility that’s played a role here.”

Dr. Dave says areas in Colorado that have higher mask usage have fewer coronavirus cases, highlighting the importance of wearing a mask.

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“When you see someone wearing a mask, you know they’re not only thinking about their own health, but the health of their loved ones,” says Dr. Dave. “They’re thinking about kids going back to school, their teachers and support staff. They’re thinking about jobs and employment. They’re thinking about keeping the economy going and people getting a paycheck, so it is a good move.”

The CDC is also stressing the importance of wearing a mask. Last week, CDC director Robert Redfield said, “If everyone could wear a face covering over the next six weeks we could drive this into the ground.”

Dr. Dave says while that timeline may be a little optimistic, wearing a mask has already proven to make a difference.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to get 100%,” says Dr. Dave, adding, “We do think if you get to 80% of people wearing a mask in this country, it will be as effective as a stay at home order in terms of lowering case counts and getting us to a better place.”

Dr. Dave says he understands the frustration of getting new messages from doctors about coronavirus daily. He adds it’s important to remember that coronavirus is constantly changing, and doctors continue to learn more about it every day.

“Science is not a situation where your feet are encased in concrete and never move. We are learning as we go. You have to remember that we really didn’t know much, if anything, about COVID-19 in the beginning of the year. So it is a matter of changing and adjusting to current conditions and trying to make the right decisions.”

Besides wearing masks, another important component to fighting the pandemic is testing. Dr. Dave reminds everyone to get tested if you have any sign of illness.

“Remember, there are 18 to 20 symptoms associated with COVID-19. Anyone who is sick needs to self-isolate and be tested,” says Dr. Dave.

If you were exposed to someone with coronavirus: Dr. Dave says you may be feeling well, but you should get tested.

Also, if you traveled recently or think you may have been a situation where you were exposed, you should want to consult with your doctor about whether you should get tested.

“The average time for people to become ill after being exposed with COVID-19 can range from three days from exposure to 14 days. It’s a wide range,” says Dr. Dave. “If you have a question about whether you should be tested, this is a time when a call to your healthcare provider is definitely a good idea.”

Q&A with Dr. Dave airs every Monday at 11am on CBSN Denver.

Robin Clutters

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