ELIZABETH, NJ — The Elizabeth Public Library and Trinitas Regional Medical Center co-hosted a virtual event titled ‘COVID-19: Where are we now?’

In a discussion between community members and other medical professionals, Dr. John D’Angelo, Chairman of Emergency Medicine at Trinitas, alleviated some of the confusion about how to move forward. He pointed out that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has declined significantly in the last few months saying that there are currently only 1 or 2 symptomatic COVID patients at this time at Trinitas. He added that the transmission rate during peak times was about 4.5-5 per infected person and now that rate has dropped to less than one.

“It’s safe to come back to the hospital,” said Dr. D'Angelo. Families have been able to visit relatives for the past three weeks. Now each person who comes into the hospital for a routine medical procedure gets the antigen (nasal swab) coronavirus test.

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When asked about the effectiveness of masks in preventing transmission Dr. D’Angelo echoed CDC guidelines which maintain that mask wearing is necessary.

“If you follow the science there is no doubt that masking works,” said Dr. D’Angelo. He continued, "If we had upwards of 90% of people wearing masks we could snuff out this disease by October." He also emphasized the importance of covering the nose and mouth with the masks.

One resident asked Dr. D’Angelo about the safety of reopening schools in the fall. He pointed out that in March many doctors believed that kids would be super spreaders of the virus, but so far this has turned out not to be the case. However, in the last few weeks he noted that in Florida and other states with surging numbers, teens and young adults have been spreading the virus at a higher rate than young children.

The doctor also expressed his belief, as a father of five, that in-person schooling is essential for children in K-5 because they cannot learn as well sitting at a computer for eight hours a day.