Dr. Manion says there’s a ‘whole lot’ Pike County can do to keep pandemic from getting worse

Milford. The infection disease specialist talks about the area’s upward trajectory and delivers some good news too.

19 Nov 2020 | 05:00

In his latest Covid Zoom meeting update on Nov. 16, Dr. Doug Manion said, “There’s good news, bad news, and a whole lot of things we can do to keep it from getting worse.”

Covid cases are going up everywhere in the country, and even though Pike County’s cases show a moderate increase compared to Carbon, Monroe, and Wayne counties, the trend is still on an upward trajectory. There were 81 new cases in the last 14 days in Pike, compared with 214 in Carbon, 384 in Monroe, and 44 in Wayne. The 14-day new cases per 100,000 population were 334.7, 229.1, 146.0, and 85.4, respectively, in Carbon, Monroe, Pike, and Wayne. (See chart.)

Manion said this new strain of the virus (D614G ) has an RNA (its basic makeup) that is more prone to mutation than previous strains, but more susceptible to vaccines and therapeutics.

More than 30 people attended Monday’s Zoom meeting, asking questions and participating in discussions.

Manion is a well-known Harvard-trained infectious disease specialist and CEO of Kleo Pharmaceuticals. He’s now a full-time Milford resident who gives generously of his time to the Milford Covid Volunteer Task Force. He’s one of the founding members, along with Mayor Sean Strub and others. He is also on the Milford Borough Public Safety Commission and consults at the Hotel Fauchère on matters relating to making the hotel safe during the Covid pandemic.

Manion assiduously tracks the Covid Virus daily, especially with regard to Pike County and Milford. He has held numerous Covid updates on Zoom, hosted by Mayor Strub, where anyone is welcome to join and ask about symptoms, treatments, vaccines, and prevention strategies. Milford has its very own world-class Covid specialist right in its backyard. In addition to being a caring, erudite doctor, Manion is quite informal and very approachable.

Vaccine on the way

Manion delivered some good news too: there are more than 30 vaccines in development globally, two which are very close to getting emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be kept at 70 degrees Celsius– the same temperature as liquid nitrogen–and the Moderna vaccine is able to be kept at 20 degrees Celsius –the temperature of a standard freezer. Both vaccines will require two doses. Neither is be currently approved for people under 18.

Rapid Covid antigen tests are also in development, but they are less accurate. If people test positive on these tests, they are positive, but a negative result could yield a false negative.

When asked about restaurants in Milford, Strub said many are taking new safety measures. And while he couldn’t speak for them all, he said his own restaurant, the Hotel Fauchère, retrofitted the HVAC systems in the dining rooms and public areas. All guest rooms have individual HVAC units, and there is no shared ventilation system between the guest rooms and other rooms or spaces in the hotel. They’ve also installed ionizers to help kill pathogens and purify the air. They have even gone so far as to stop singing “Happy Birthday” in the restaurant for fear of airborne particles being expressed from singing.

All of this has been done in addition to the spread-out tables and face coverings on all staff members and guests. Strub says they’ve been sharing this information with other restaurants in Milford.

Manion says we should be wearing masks and face shieldseven when outside. He suggests using fire pits when having small outside gatherings. He loves the outdoors and said he hopes people can find more creative ways of being together outside.

If you were unable to join Monday’s “Ask the Doctor,” here is the recording link: bit.ly/2IE6fdq. Type in the passcode: &c^h0aI2

Health officials announced Tuesday that Pennsylvania is strengthening its mask mandate and will require out-of-state travelers to test negative for the coronavirus before arrival. See related story on page 10 for more information.