Becker’s Hospital Review: Dr. Steven Hanks on Combatting COVID-19, Vaccine Misinformation

Experienced physician executive Dr. Steven D. Hanks has joined St. Peter’s Health Partners as Chief Medical Officer, Acute Care Albany, and Vice President, SPHP.

Becker’s Hospital Review published a story on how misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the U.S. since the pandemic began. They included insight from Dr. Steven Hanks, chief clinical officer, who shared his perspective during a Becker’s Clinical Leadership Virtual Event in August.

From the article:

“There’s really two categories where I see a lot of misinformation and confusion. The first is around the transmission risk, as well as how it’s transmitted. The second is around perceptions about vaccination and/or treatments. To talk about the first category, transmission risks, we’re finding a large number of people who believe because they’re young, or maybe they’re perceived to be healthy or they’re thin, so they feel that somehow they’re not at risk or if they catch it, it’s going to be no worse than a bad cold and so what’s the big deal.

Another misconception about transmission is how the virus spreads. Do you catch it from touching something? Is outdoors safe? We hear a lot of people saying, ‘Well, I’m outdoors. I don’t have to worry because this is a virus that you catch when you’re indoors, in a crowded space.’ Although it’s true that the virus has a higher risk of transmission indoors, in closed, less well-ventilated spaces, the reality is we believe that this virus can be transmitted even outside. There’s nothing mysterious about the outdoors that totally protects people.

There’s also misinformation related to the whole concept of masks. We’re seeing extremes here. On the one hand, we see people who feel that: ‘Well, a mask doesn’t really do anything. I don’t need to wear a mask.’ At the opposite end are people who have any kind of face covering and they think they’re 100 percent protected and that somehow that means they don’t need to physically distance or avoid crowds. They think somehow the mask gives them complete protection against the virus, which we know isn’t the case. Even when you’re doing all of those things, there’s still risk of COVID transmission, even when people have proper face coverings on.

This is likely going to drag on. We just have to make our peace with it. It’s going to be important to maintain vigilance…I think the messaging needs to be continuous. It needs to be consistent. It needs to be multimodal, multigenerational, and it needs to come from multiple places, so the CDC, our political leaders, our healthcare leaders. We all need to talk soberly about this.”

Click here to read the full article.

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