Dr. Siegel: Influx of COVID hospitalizations means states have to 'dial back' on some reopening phases

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The recent surge of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations means states will need to "dial back" on reopening plans, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel stated Friday.

In an interview on "America's Newsroom," Siegel pointed out that the numbers of cases and deaths "haven't caught up" partially because people -- mainly America's youth -- are being tested "earlier in the game," physicians have access to treatments that they didn't have in March, and they know how to handle COVID-19 in hospitals better than before.

But he said the rising number of hospitalizations has forced states like Texas to halt elective surgeries again.

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Across the United States, 39,327 new coronavirus infections were reported by U.S. state health departments on Thursday — surpassing the previous single-day record of 38,115. Texas, Alabama, Missouri, and Nevada all reported daily highs. The death toll also spiked, to about 2,500, as New Jersey added 1,854 probable deaths to its overall count.

"But, especially in Texas and also in Arizona and Florida, we are seeing more and more hospitalizations," Siegel told Gallagher. "And, let me tell you the biggest problem with that outside of, of course, the risk to the patient is that COVID-19 -- let's not forget -- is an infectious disease. So, if you have it in the hospital, you have to wall off certain units, you have to isolate the patients. This is really, really important -- infection control precautions that we’ve now learned how to do.

"Guess what that gets in the way of?" he asked. "It gets in the way of elective procedures and surgeries.

A waiter serves a group dinning at a restaurant that reopen at the River Walk in San Antonio, Friday, May 1, 2020. Texas' stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on many businesses that have now opened. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A waiter serves a group dinning at a restaurant that reopen at the River Walk in San Antonio, Friday, May 1, 2020. Texas' stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has eased restrictions on many businesses that have now opened. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

"So, when Governor Abbott of Texas says, ‘I'm going to have to stop elective surgeries,’ to me, that means lives. To me, that means cancer surgeries. To me, that means diagnostics," Siegel remarked.

According to the NYU Langone Professor of Medicine, if elective surgeries are paused, bars, restaurants, malls, theaters, and gyms should be paused as well.

"And…in my public health brain -- and I've been studying pandemics a long time -- I think maybe we should dial it back in a state like Texas a bit so that we can have our elective surgeries," he asserted. "We don't need this influx in hospitals for many reasons."

While Siegel explained that he was not calling for shutting down the economy or a lockdown, he was urging leaders to work in tandem with health officials and "look at everything individually."

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"What about gyms? How are we working in gyms? How are we working bars? Could you have bars with more physical distancing built in? Could you have more emphasis on outdoor seating? Maybe movie theaters, we have to take a step back," he noted. "Everything needs to be looked at piece by piece.

"Not a lockdown, but a focused, laser approach so that we don't end up with the influx in the hospitals. I want the elective procedures and hospitals, hugely important," he concluded.

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