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KSTP medical expert weighs in on new coronavirus restrictions

KSTP medical expert weighs in on new coronavirus restrictions

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Retail businesses will be allowed to stay open.

"When I'm shopping in a mall or a large department store, I usually have space around me," said Dr. Georgiou. "I'm typically not within six feet of an individual unless I'm maybe paying a cashier with a credit card for something for two to three to four minutes. That's very, very different from being within a restaurant for an hour, two hours, two and a half hours, and being seated close to each other."

According to Dr. Georgiou, some of the businesses facing restrictions are at a higher risk for the spread of COVID than others.

"It seems to me that the highest risk areas are those where there's food, where people are sitting across to and close to each other and where there is alcohol involved," she said. "That is the trifecta of risk because you take off your mask to eat, you're sitting across from each other and talking and it’s easier to spread to virus because we know talking, speaking, singing loudly transmits more aerosol. Alcohol diminishes all of our inhibitions."

According to the Minnesota Department of Health COVID dashboard, the most common scenario when a patient tests positive for the disease is that the exposure is "unknown."

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"I think the fact that so many people have an unknown source of becoming COVID positive speaks to the importance of these stay at home restrictions because that suggests even further that airborne spread is real,” Dr. Georgiou said. “When you are out in the community, in a grocery store, in a pharmacy, in a restaurant in a bar, there is airborne spread you are at risk to. So you may not have been at that bar or restaurant with someone in your party who had COVID but someone else in that venue could've had it and then when you end up testing positive that would be an unknown case."

She said research has shown that restrictions do slow the spread of the disease.

"My team and I at the University of Minnesota, at the Carlson School of Management, published a study on just that," she said.

The report was published at the end of May.

"We looked at four states and in four out of four states, which included Minnesota, we were able to show that while the virus surge was increasing at a certain rate prior to the shutdown, once the shutdown was implemented the trajectory changed to a much safer level," Dr. Georgiou said. "It doesn’t take away the virus, it doesn’t eliminate it, but it changes the rate of a spread to a lower level and that is what we've got to get to."

She said, however, that this round of restrictions is less extensive than the 'stay at home' order in the spring.

"The study that we published evaluated shutdowns that were a more severe shutdown so I don’t know if those results are going to be the same," she said. "I don’t know if it's going to decrease the spread as much as it did in the spring but it will help."

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