Dr. David Agus says mandating wearing a mask would be an effective push back against the recent spike of COVID-19 cases.By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There seems to be no end in sight to the upward surge of the coronavirus.

Some scattered shutdowns are starting to happen around the country and in our area, every day brings another school district altering the school day due to COVID-19.

Dr. David Agus with the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and a CBS Medical Expert says the spike is being driven by three factors: People forced indoors by the weather, schools have become a major spreading factor, and people are tired of the restrictions.

“We all just say, ‘Hey, listen, I’m tired of this virus, I don’t care anymore. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m going to do whatever I want.’ And unfortunately, we’re seeing the ramifications of that, which are surging numbers, and significant loss of life,” he said. “And what will be is many people, significant issues in the lung of the heart, at any age, and I’m worried about that.”

It is time for mask mandates all across the country he says.

“I believe in trying to protect every person in our community,” he said. “So they don’t suffer the ravages of the virus, whether they’re 20-year-olds, or they’re 80-years-old. And if we mandate a mask and enforce it, we give fines to people who don’t, we’re going to have fewer suffering from this virus.”

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The good news about coming treatments and vaccines, Dr. Agus says, is encouraging.

“To me, these tools literally are hope in a bottle, they’re light at the end of the tunnel, which gives everybody a reason to practice the guidelines now, mask, social distancing, etc…,” he said. “There are 50 million doses that are going to be available in this initial Pfizer vaccine. Then I think over the next week or so you’ll see AstraZeneca announced its data, several weeks later, Moderna will announce its data.”

Dr. Agus added widespread vaccine delivery is well into next year so cracking down on our mitigation efforts now is critical.

“If we all do this in the short run, the benefit, in the long run, will be there and then we won’t have to do mass shutdowns will decrease the virus, people will be much better on a health basis. And as we get to the vaccine, we’re going to go back to a much more normal with our friends around us rather than being hospitalized or unfortunate being six feet under the ground.”

While he does not advocate a total shutdown of the economy Dr. Agus says a recent student in the medical journal Lancet indicates the two most effective methods to control the spread are masks and moving schools to online instruction only.