PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Stressing social distancing was a key point Dr. Ernest L. Carter of Prince George's County hammered home when speaking Monday during the county's COVID-19 update.
“My message today should be very clear: we are not in a position to play around with this particular virus," Carter started. "We have to use social distance and I’m going to tell you why. Social distancing is the medicine for this virus. It’s not the testing that everybody thinks. Testing is for public health officials, like me, who want to determine the spread. But it’s the social distancing that’s going to save people's lives. I have to say it again. Social distancing is going to save people's lives."
Dr. Carter said that when asked about seniors wanting to go outside, and if the county had enough masks for them, he told that person, "Those seniors should be at home, they don’t need to be out."
Carter has more than 38 years of experience in direct patient care, more than 25 years of experience in the fields of telemedicine and health IT as well as more than 8 years in public health.
"We have people running in line to get tests … the test is for doctors," Carter said. "I want to be very clear about that."
Carter also stressed that when test sites for the coronavirus open up in the county, which is now a reality we are facing, people do not need to rush to get tested, and those who have prescriptions to get tested from doctors are the only ones who will be tested.
"You just don't show up to a test site, they're going to turn you away," Carter said. "You have to have a prescription."
It's been a little over a week since coronavirus was first confirmed in the DMV. Since then, the President has declared a national emergency and banned travel to most European countries, public schools in the region closed down and the NBA and NHL have canceled their seasons.
"We should plan to hunker down, or at least be prepared to be on a social distancing protocol for another two and a half months," Dr. Marty Makary said.
Makary is a surgeon and professor of health policy at Johns Hopkins. He's worked with the World Health Organization and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Makary's early warnings are now mirrored by doctors in charge of the national pandemic response, including Dr. Anthony Fauci.