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Dr. Tam: Now is Not the Time to Relax on COVID-19 Safety Measures

Dr David Tam


A few months ago, Beebe Healthcare’s message was clear – it was a critical time to wear a face covering in public for the safety of the community.

Sussex County rallied and we wore our masks – some hand-sewn from favorite T-shirts, some shaped into a bandana, and many generously donated by the hundreds of much appreciated sewists in the community.

These actions, in combination with physical distancing, frequent and proper handwashing and increased testing, flattened the curve which allowed our community to open and the local businesses and Beebe to begin the recovery phase of providing needed services for people while continuing certain restrictions.

This is the New Normal. We have talked about how this pandemic is not a sprint but a marathon, and the virus is still very much here in our county, state, and nation.

The Delaware Division of Public Health recently identified a cluster of cases of COVID-19 positives resulting from senior week at the Delaware beaches. Work continues to identify any potential outbreak from the cluster, and some were identified, and we are seeing an increase in the rate of positive test cases in our county.  In response to this outbreak, Beebe has expanded testing and education to help stop the chain of infection from this outbreak. Beebe and the state have offered multiple testing events this week in partnership with the Delaware Restaurant Association.

This should be worrisome to those of all ages.

Gov. John Carney is delaying Phase 3 of Delaware’s economic recovery until it is better understood what the latest trend in positives mean for our state while we also monitor what is happening throughout the nation.

Anecdotally, there has been an increased relaxation with regard to wearing face coverings and physical distancing. There are very good reasons to wear a face covering in public when going out to dinner, the hair salon, the grocery story, or a doctor’s appointment.

Here’s why: there is clear scientific evidence that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower if a mask is worn. It is still not fully understood how often those with the virus and without symptoms can transmit to others, according to the CDC.

You may have seen a recent graphic from the Division of Public Health. One picture is of an asymptomatic carrier of the virus and the other of an uninfected person. It details the chance of transmission as low if both wear a face covering and very low if 6 feet of distancing is practiced. Without a face covering, that chance of transmission is much higher.

This is the image we all need to have in mind as we go to our boardwalks, state parks, restaurants, local businesses, and healthcare providers.

At Beebe, we want to eliminate the risk for you. It is why we’ve made numerous changes to our inpatient and outpatient locations, and it’s why Beebe requires a face covering for everyone at each of our care sites. It’s for your safety and the safety of our team members. We’ve also kept our visitor restrictions in place for the sake of safety, as it’s our top priority as a health system.

We all need to sustain the recovery. Beebe needs to continue our Recovery Phase so we can continue to maintain the delivery of excellent care locally to our community in Sussex County. Businesses need the economic recovery to keep their doors open.  And, at Beebe, we know that social and economic determinants such as unemployment, poverty, and homelessness have negative impacts on people’s health. And our community needs the physical and emotional recovery to enjoy all our beautiful area has to offer.

So, I urge all of us – young and old – to maintain vigilance in the practice of the proven safety measures in this new normal we are all experiencing. We can continue to recover in the same way we flattened the curve in the first place – together.

Dr David Tam

David A. Tam, MD, MBA, CPHE, FACHE

David A. Tam, MD, MBA, CPHE FACHE, assumed the role of Beebe Healthcare President & CEO on March 17. He is a distinguished and accomplished administrator and has experiences as an officer in the United States Navy and in large public health systems. He completed his pediatrics residency at the US Naval Hospital in Oakland, California, and a pediatric neurology fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.