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Stanford professor says rise in COVID-19 cases is proof that virus is tracking human behavior


STANFORD, Calif. (KRON) – There are several factors behind the rise in COVID-19 cases, including testing, contact tracing, and people interacting more as shelter-in place orders get relaxed.

But as we continue to track the virus – a Stanford University professor says the new numbers are proof that the coronavirus is also tracking ‘us.’

“I think the virus is tracking people’s behavior,” Dr. Robert Siegel said. 

Stanford University professor of microbiology and immunology Dr. Robert Siegel

says “wear your mask,” accounting for the recent rise in COVID-19 case numbers like this.

“The virus would be very happy if we all went back and started socializing,” Dr. Siegel said. 

In other words, says Dr. Siegel, the virus doesn’t care about what matters to people and that is the key to reopening.

“The reopening is not working perfectly because as things open people are being more lax in their behavior like fewer people wearing masks,” Dr. Siegel said.

It’s called “mask fatigue” or “quarantine fatigue.” 

Dr. Siegel points out that new cases are not spiking among one high risk group in particular, health care workers.

“People are very carefully watching health care providers and their rate of infection is really, really low so they have a high exposure but they are being very careful and they are not getting infected,” Dr. Siegel said.

If anything, Dr. Siegel says more testing is showing the recent uptick in cases is real.

He says there is scant evidence warmer weather has made much of a difference.

“The key is, we have to continue to do the public health measures of wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands, using hand sanitizers and basically being smart,” Dr. Siegel said.

Dr. Siegel says outsmarting the coronavirus starts with admitting that it’s still here and what you can do could save your life or someone else’s life.

“The virus is still very much present and you just have to look at the numbers, we are breaking records every day so in terms of risky behavior, you are more at risk for being in social settings without a mask than you ever were,” Dr. Siegel said.

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