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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Kent State Professor Says Social Distancing Is Working, Masks Can Help Prevent Spread of COVID-19

a photo of Tara Smith
KENT STATE UNIVERSITY FACEBOOK
Kent State Professor Tara Smith answered COVID-19 questions via Facebook Live on April 9, 2020.

A recognized expert on epidemiology agrees Ohio’s social distancing measures are making a difference in reducing the spread of coronavirus in the state.

Kent State hosted a Facebook Live Q&A with professor of epidemiology Dr. Tara Smith Thursday. Smith says Ohio hasn’t seen its coronavirus peak yet, but there are encouraging signs. 

“We’ve had some good news that case counts, they’re still increasing, but the percentage by which they are increasing seems to be slowing," Smith says. "But we really need to see that for, I would say, a good solid week before we can say we’re really slowing down.”

Smith says increasing the capacity to test for COVID-19 will provide more accurate info on the extent of infections, particularly in cases with mild or no symptoms. This will make it possible for those people to quarantine themselves to prevent further spread.

As many Ohioans begin to wear masks in public to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Smith also says it is important to be careful and smart with your mask.

Smith says it’s important to always handle a homemade mask by its straps, and touch the parts closest to your mouth as little as possible. She also says the real value in wearing a mask in public is to protect the people around you.

tara_smith_fb_live_2.mp3
Smith on the reason masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Somewhere between maybe 20 to 40 percent, we don’t know the exact number, of infections that are contracted by people happen when the person who is infectious is not showing symptoms yet,” Smith says.  

Smith says masks are not a substitute for social distancing; masks are meant to be an added measure on top of social distancing to decrease the spread.

Smith spoke from her home in Mogadore, where she is abiding by Ohio's stay-at-home order that is in effect through May 1.