On Tuesday evening a virtual Town Hall addressed community questions about COVID-19.
The event, presented by the County of San Luis Obispo, the Office of Education and the NAACP, featured a panel of local doctors who answered questions about COVID-19.
"COVID is here to stay. We're not going to eradicate it as we did with smallpox. That's not going to happen," said panelist Dr. Kevin Ferguson.
A community member asked if San Luis Obispo will continue to see variations of the COVID-19 virus. According to health officials, answer is yes, and one particular type is very concerning to healthcare professionals.
"What we worry about are variants of high consequence, which [are] variants that have somehow continued to escape our vaccination and treatment strategy," said Ferguson.
Health experts say the only way to prevent this from happening is widespread vaccination.
"...but that is why we would really like to get to herd immunity," said Ferguson.
In the meantime, experts say masking is the best way to stay safe.
"Cloth masks, paper masks, they protect everybody else. An N95, if it's properly fit, protects you," said Ferguson.
The masks can even be re-used.
"Put them in a paper bag for 72 hours and that usually is enough to dry them out pretty well," said panelist Dr. Miriam Lomelino.
Dr. Rene Bravo, a local pediatrician who was also on the panel, is concerned about a growing trend toward getting the virus on purpose.
"The whole point of vaccination is to develop immunity without getting the disease or developing the risk of the infection," Bravo said. "So no, don't just get it on purpose. I think you're putting yourself or people that you may not even know or be aware of at risk."
The panelists agreed that there may be an end in sight.
"It's looking up now and I'm optimistic because I think we're much closer to the end than we think," said Bravo.
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