BROWNSVILLE, Texas – One person supporting new stay-at-home orders is world renowned epidemiologist, Dr. Joseph McCormick, who now works for UT Health Science Center-Houston. 

In an interview with News Talk 710 KURV, McCormick said new data shows much more transmission of COVID-19 among young people.

Asked if he was surprised by Hidalgo County having 11 fatalities due to the coronavirus in one day, McCormick said: “No, not when I see the number of cases per day. Look, we have had a ten-fold increase overall in Cameron and Hidalgo counties in the number of cases.”

McCormick said the transmission in the community is now much higher overall. 

Interviewer Tim Sullivan noted that COVID-19 was “back with a vengeance” in the Valley. Asked by Sullivan how the Valley can turn things around, McCormick said: “I think we have to go back to what we did. We know it worked.”

McCormick is the founder of the UTHealth School of Public Health in Brownsville. His past experience includes testing patients with Lassa fever in Africa. He has written over 200 scientific publications related to epidemiology with co-authors from over 20 different countries.

McCormick lives in Brownsville, Texas. He noted that when Cameron County was under shelter in place orders, it had ten, 11, or 12 cases per day. Now, he said, it is 100, 110, 120, with Hidalgo County even higher. 

When Sullivan said that a new shelter-in-place order would be tough on the economy, McCormick responded: “I am sorry but we are going to have to because nobody is going to go to a business if they are afraid of getting COVID. Let’s be realistic. You can open all the businesses you want. You can line up all the economists you want. There are plenty of economists who are saying, by the way, no, we are going to have to go back to what we are doing before. What we are seeing is counter-productive to opening the economy. So, let’s go back and get the thing under control.”

Once that is done, McCormick said, “everybody has to pay attention to social distancing, wearing masks and practicing what know what works.”

Asked by interviewer Sergio Sanchez for any good ideas on ways to live with the virus, McCormick said: “In those countries such as Taiwan, Germany, Japan, Singapore where they have done a really good job of controlling this virus, they jumped on it early when there were not too many cases and they tracked them all down and they quarantined people and they started wearing masks and that really resulted in a good result.”

McCormick said the United States did not do that.

‘Now, our population is overwhelmed with the virus all through our small towns, everywhere. So, it is far more difficult to track all these cases and quarantine all the people that would need to be quarantined. We have pretty much overwhelmed our ability to do that, in my opinion,” McCormick said.

The esteemed researcher recommended restaurants open outside dining areas. For inside dining, he said restauranteurs space tables apart and insist that everyone that walks into the restaurant wear a mask. 

“Remember, this is an airborne virus and we know that airborne viruses, like measles and chickenpox and highly contagious. Just by talking, if you are infected, and you are not wearing a mask, you can project the virus out into the air and it can hang there for eight to ten minutes. That is what new research shows.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Dr. Joseph McCormick.

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