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Epidemiologist: R.I. likely to see ‘ups and downs’ in virus transmission as state reopens

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Epidemiologist: R.I. likely to see ‘ups and downs’ in virus transmission as state reopens

Hide caption Providence Journal file photo: door of the office of Dr. Mermel. Brian Amaral Journal Staff Writer Rhode Island has made undeniable progress in combating the coronavirus, and the numbers are heading in the right direction, but the state is not out of the woods yet, a Rhode Island Hospital epidemiologist said this week.

In an interview, Dr. Leonard Mermel said the state should expect to see the continued spread of COVID-19. With that continued spread, people should expect to live differently until enough people are immune. Mermel said he thinks enough people will get the virus to creep toward herd immunity; then, a vaccine will finish the job.

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The key now is for health officials to quickly find cases that will inevitably pop up, while people also do things like wearing masks and avoid crowds. That will help stop the manageable “brush fires” from turning into wildfires, Mermel said.

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“I think we’re going to see some little ups and downs,” Mermel said, “but to prevent a big uptick, it’s going to depend on the Health Department being able to have the agility and resources to quickly put out the fires.”

The Providence Journal spoke to Mermel on Thursday to get an update on how the state has fared in the pandemic, and where it goes from here. Mermel is medical director of the Department of Epidemiology and Infection Control at Rhode […]

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