Dr. Shaun Sheehan


DuBOIS — Most health officials are concerned about the recent spike in positive coronavirus cases, as well as what lies ahead with winter coming, according to Dr. Shaun Sheehan, Penn Highlands Healthcare’s COVID-19 Task Force leader, during last week’s media teleconference.

“I think as healthcare providers, we certainly are all concerned about the record number of COVID-19 infections and the substantial community spread that is occurring locally here within our region, as well as nationally,” said Sheehan.

Sheehan noted it’s important to think about the number of cases in terms of numbers and ratios.

“Now I don’t want to say specific numbers because they vary based on several factors like age and health status, but let’s say for example, 5 percent of those that are infected require hospitalization,” said Sheehan. “Well, 5 percent of 1,000 is much different than 5 percent of 10,000 or 20,000, 30,000. In this country this week, we had over 140,000 positive cases in just one day. So take that 5 percent and put it into that 140,000. The more cases there are, the more people we will see hospitalized, affected by this, and unfortunately die.”

Sheehan stressed the importance of wearing masks correctly — up over your nose — as well as social distancing and avoiding crowds.

“These few things can really impact the amount of spread of COVID-19,” said Sheehan. “It is a highly contagious virus spread through the air or by droplets. It has several characteristics that make it highly infective.”

With winter approaching, Sheehan said COVID-19 and other coronaviruses seem to thrive in cold dry air, in addition to people often spending more time inside together during the winter months.

“The holidays are approaching and Thanksgiving and Christmas and any other holidays coming up in the next month or two is concerning to me and other health officials,” he said. “For instance, just from Halloween and Election Day, we’ve seen several local cases resulting in outbreaks. A suggestion for these coming months is to continue with wearing a mask, social distance, and get at least six feet apart.”

For those who plan to get together with others for the holidays, Sheehan suggests finding ways to change it up and minimize the number of people gathering.

The CDC website has guidelines for the holidays at the following link:


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