We’re starting the summer in Illinois on a positive note: the numbers of COVID-19 cases are decreasing in our state.
That’s great news: it means that 10 weeks of separation has resulted in countless lives saved, but it does not mean the virus is gone or that cases won't escalate again.
If we let our guard down, there will be new infections that lead to another escalation of cases, and in turn, a higher risk to everyone. The less the virus spreads this summer, the less chance it can escalate in the fall and winter.
Summer 2020 is not going to be typical. We will have to find ways to enjoy the sunny days without inhaling the virus from a friend or stranger.
Let’s take advantage of the summer months to spend time outdoors where the wind blows the virus away. I will be enjoying hikes, bike rides, the occasional run and spending time with my family in the back yard.
If you’ve returned to the workplace, taking the mask off at lunch while eating with co-workers is risky. If it’s an exposure in an office to one person and that person self isolates, that’s only one more infection. But if it’s an exposure in a social gathering or in a crowded building, that could be an outbreak leading to a chain of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
I’m taking the long view, looking to the summer of 2021. By then, there may be a safe and effective vaccine, more studies on medications and widely available treatments for COVID-19.
I am going to enjoy a quiet summer this year.
I look forward to the summer of 2021, cautiously optimistic that someday we can safely gather again and celebrate the precious lives we still have.
• Dr. Jonathan Pinsky is medical director, Infection Control & Prevention, at Edward Hospital