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Ms. Magazine: Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Murthy: “We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet”

As the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Rekha Murthy, MD, vice president of medical affairs and associate chief medical officer at Cedars-Sinai, spoke with Ms. Magazine about the path forward.

Murthy explained what the public should expect the "new normal" will look like and how long it will last. She said that testing will remain important until a vaccine is available, along with preventative measures such as physical distancing, hand hygiene and wearing masks.

"This will all be part of a kind of a ‘new normal’ of how we interact…until we get vaccines available and are able to provide some assurance of immunity for enough of the population to achieve a likelihood of reducing transmission, like we have done with other vaccine-preventable diseases—like measles or chicken pox," Murthy told Ms.

She explains in the article what makes the novel coronavirus unique from other viruses.

Murthy contrasted its long incubation period—up to about 12 days—with that of influenza, which develops very quickly. In addition, it's a completely new virus that humans have not encountered before, so there's no population with immunity to the novel coronavirus, which spreads easily through respiratory droplets.

"The way it is transmitted, coupled with the long incubation period, are unique elements of this particular pandemic and this virus—and the fact that it causes serious illness, and that it can cause mild illness in many people," Murthy told the magazine. "We know that 80% of people don’t get really sick, so we have this population of people that might be harboring it, but have mild enough symptoms they don’t really notice. But they could be infectious to others by virtue of coughing or sneezing."

Click here to read the complete story from Ms. Magazine.